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Discrete policy changes and empirical models of the federal funds rate

  • Michael J. Dueker
  • Robert H. Rasche

Empirical models of the federal funds rate almost uniformly use the quarterly or monthly average of the daily rates. One empirical question about the federal funds rate concerns the extent to which monetary policymakers smooth this interest rate. Under the hypothesis of rate smoothing, policymakers set the interest rate this period equal to a weighted average of the rate inherited from the previous quarter and the rate implied by current economic conditions, such as the Taylor rule rate. Perhaps surprisingly, however, little attention has been given to measuring the interest rate inherited from the previous quarter. Previous tests for interest rate smoothing have assumed that the quarterly or monthly average from the previous period is the inherited rate. The authors of this study, in contrast, suggest that the end-of-quarter level of the target federal funds rate is the inherited rate, and empirical tests support this proposition. The authors show that this alternative view of the rate inherited from the past affects empirical results concerning interest rate smoothing, even in relatively rich models that include regime switching.

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Article provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its journal Review.

Volume (Year): (2004)
Issue (Month): Nov ()
Pages: 61-72

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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlrv:y:2004:i:nov:p:61-72:n:v.86no.6
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  1. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 1997. "Monetary policy rules and macroeconomic stability: Evidence and some theory," Economics Working Papers 350, Department of Economics and Business, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, revised May 1999.
  2. Michael J. Dueker, 2002. "The monetary policy innovation paradox in VARs: a "discrete" explanation," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Mar., pages 43-50.
  3. Rudebusch, Glenn D., 2002. "Term structure evidence on interest rate smoothing and monetary policy inertia," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1161-1187, September.
  4. Thomas A. Lubik & Frank Schorfheide, 2004. "Testing for Indeterminacy: An Application to U.S. Monetary Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 190-217, March.
  5. James D. Hamilton & Oscar Jorda, 2000. "A Model for the Federal Funds Rate Target," NBER Working Papers 7847, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Sack, Brian, 2000. "Does the fed act gradually? A VAR analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(1), pages 229-256, August.
  7. Athanasios Orphanides, 2001. "Monetary Policy Rules Based on Real-Time Data," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 964-985, September.
  8. Ben S. Bernanke & Alan S. Blinder, 1989. "The federal funds rate and the channels of monetary transmission," Working Papers 89-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  9. Michael Woodford, 2003. "Optimal Interest-Rate Smoothing," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 70(4), pages 861-886, October.
  10. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
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