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Three great American disinflations

Author

Listed:
  • Michael D. Bordo
  • Christopher J. Erceg
  • Andrew T. Levin
  • Ryan Michaels

Abstract

This paper analyzes the role of transparency and credibility in accounting for the widely divergent macroeconomic effects of three episodes of deliberate monetary contraction: the post-Civil War deflation, the post-WWI deflation, and the Volcker disinflation. Using a dynamic general equilibrium model in which private agents use optimal filtering to infer the central bank’s nominal anchor, we demonstrate that the salient features of these three historical episodes can be explained by differences in the design and transparency of monetary policy, even without any time variation in economic structure or model parameters. For a policy regime with relatively high credibility, our analysis highlights the benefits of a gradualist approach (as in the 1870s) rather than a sudden change in policy (as in 1920–21). In contrast, for a policy institution with relatively low credibility (such as the Federal Reserve in late 1980), an aggressive policy stance can play an important signalling role by making the policy shift more evident to private agents.

Suggested Citation

  • Michael D. Bordo & Christopher J. Erceg & Andrew T. Levin & Ryan Michaels, 2007. "Three great American disinflations," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedfpr:y:2007:x:5
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Alan S. Blinder & Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher & Jakob De Haan & David-Jan Jansen, 2008. "Central Bank Communication and Monetary Policy: A Survey of Theory and Evidence," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 910-945, December.
    2. Jordan Roulleau-Pasdeloup & Anastasia Zhutova, 2015. "Labor Market Policies and the "Missing Deflation" Puzzle: Lessons from Hoover Policies during the U.S Great Depression," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 15.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
    3. Bordo, Michael D. & Haubrich, Joseph G., 2010. "Credit crises, money and contractions: An historical view," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 1-18, January.
    4. Elmar Mertens, 2016. "Managing Beliefs about Monetary Policy under Discretion," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 48(4), pages 661-698, June.
    5. Michael Bordo & Pierre Siklos, 2014. "Central Bank Credibility, Reputation and Inflation Targeting in Historical Perspective," NBER Working Papers 20693, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Alina Barnett & Martin Ellison, 2013. "Learning by Disinflating," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(4), pages 731-746, June.
    7. Wolfgang Pollan, 2012. "Incomes Policies, Expectations and the NAIRU," WIFO Working Papers 433, WIFO.
    8. Michael D. Bordo & David C. Wheelock, 2007. "Stock market booms and monetary policy in the twentieth century," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar, pages 91-122.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Monetary policy;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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