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The Mistake of 1937: A General Equilibrium Analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Gauti B. Eggertsson

    (Federal Reserve Bank of New York (E-mail: Gauti.Eggertsson@ny.frb.org))

  • Benjamin Pugsley

    (University of Chicago (E-mail: pugsley@uchicago.edu))

Abstract

This paper studies a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with sticky prices and rational expectations in an environment of low interest rates and deflationary pressures. We show that small changes in the public's beliefs about the future inflation target of the government can lead to large swings in both inflation and output. This effect is much larger at low interest rates than under regular circumstances. This highlights the importance of effective communication policy at zero interest rates. We argue that confusing communications by the U.S. Federal Reserve, the President of the United States, and key administration officials about future price objectives were responsible for the sharp recession in the United States in 1937?38, one of the sharpest recessions in U.S. economic history. Poor communication policy is the mistake of 1937. Before committing the mistake of 1937, the U.S. policymakers faced economic conditions that are similar in some respects to those confronted by Japanese policymakers in the first half of 2006.

Suggested Citation

  • Gauti B. Eggertsson & Benjamin Pugsley, 2006. "The Mistake of 1937: A General Equilibrium Analysis," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 24(S1), pages 151-190, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:ime:imemes:v:24:y:december:i:s1:p:151-190
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Aubhik Khan & Robert G. King & Alexander L. Wolman, 2003. "Optimal Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(4), pages 825-860.
    2. Michael D. Bordo & Andrew Filardo, 2004. "Deflation and Monetary Policy in a Historical Perspective: Remembering the Past or Being Condemned to Repeat It?," NBER Working Papers 10833, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2010. "A Reply to Steven Horwitz's Commentary on "Great Expectations and the End of the Depression"," Econ Journal Watch, Econ Journal Watch, vol. 7(3), pages 197-204, September.
    2. Price Fishback, 2017. "How Successful Was the New Deal? The Microeconomic Impact of New Deal Spending and Lending Policies in the 1930s," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1435-1485, December.
    3. Acocella, Nicola & Di Bartolomeo, Giovanni & Hughes Hallett, Andrew, 2008. "When Can Central Banks Anchor Expectations? Policy communication and controllability," CEPR Discussion Papers 7078, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    4. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2012. "Was the New Deal Contractionary?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(1), pages 524-555, February.
    5. Tanweer Akram, 2016. "Japan's Liquidity Trap," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_862, Levy Economics Institute.
    6. Carlstrom, Chartles & Fuerst , Timothy & Paustian, Matthias, 2013. "Policy multipliers under an interest rate peg of deterministic versus stochastic duration," Bank of England working papers 475, Bank of England.
    7. Nelson, Edward, 2013. "Friedman's monetary economics in practice," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 59-83.
    8. Gauti B. Eggertsson, 2013. "Fiscal Multipliers and Policy Coordination," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Luis Felipe Céspedes & Jordi Galí (ed.),Fiscal Policy and Macroeconomic Performance, edition 1, volume 17, chapter 6, pages 175-234, Central Bank of Chile.
    9. Gabriel P. Mathy, 2014. "Uncertainty Shocks and Equity Return Jumps and Volatility During the Great Depression," Working Papers 2014-02, American University, Department of Economics.
    10. Kinda Hachem & Jing Cynthia Wu, 2017. "Inflation Announcements and Social Dynamics," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 49(8), pages 1673-1713, December.
    11. Di Bartolomeo Giovanni & Hughes Hallett Andrew & Acocella Nicola, 2013. "When Can Policy Makers Anchor Expectations? Dynamic controllability and the limits to time inconsistency," wp.comunite 0104, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.
    12. Alan J. Auerbach & William G. Gale, 2009. "Activist fiscal policy to stabilize economic activity," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 327-374.
    13. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst & Matthias Paustian, 2012. "Fiscal multipliers under an interest rate peg of deterministic vs. stochastic duration," Working Papers (Old Series) 1215, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    14. 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'économie 15.05, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, Département d’économie.
    15. Price Fishback, 2010. "US monetary and fiscal policy in the 1930s," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 26(3), pages 385-413, Autumn.
    16. YANO Koiti, 2009. "Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Models Under a Liquidity Trap and Self-organizing State Space Modeling," ESRI Discussion paper series 206, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    17. Hughes Hallett Andrew & Di Bartolomeo Giovanni & Acocella Nicola, 2013. "Central banks and economic policy after the crisis: What have we learned?," wp.comunite 0106, Department of Communication, University of Teramo.
    18. Hughes Hallett, Andrew & Di Bartolomeo, Giovanni & Acocella, Nicola, 2012. "A general theory of controllability and expectations anchoring for small-open economies," Journal of International Money and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 31(2), pages 397-411.
    19. Douglas A. Irwin, 2011. "Gold Sterilization and the Recession of 1937-38," NBER Working Papers 17595, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    20. Nicolas L. Ziebarth, 2013. "Identifying the Effects of Bank Failures from a Natural Experiment in Mississippi during the Great Depression," American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(1), pages 81-101, January.
    21. Taylor, Jason E. & Neumann, Todd C., 2016. "Recovery Spring, Faltering Fall: March to November 1933," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 54-67.
    22. Emi Nakamura & Jón Steinsson, 2017. "Identification in Macroeconomics," NBER Working Papers 23968, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    23. Michael D. Bordo & Harold James, 2009. "The Great Depression Analogy," NBER Working Papers 15584, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    24. Charles T. Carlstrom & Timothy S. Fuerst & Matthias Paustian, 2014. "Fiscal Multipliers under an Interest Rate Peg of Deterministic versus Stochastic Duration," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 46(6), pages 1293-1312, September.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Deflation; Zero bound on interest rates; Regime changes; Great Depression;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes
    • N12 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - U.S.; Canada: 1913-

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