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Credit and the Natural Rate of Interest


We analyze the properties of the natural rate of interest in an economy where nominal debt contracts generate a spread between loan rates and the policy interest rate. In our model, monetary policy has real effects in the flexible-price equilibrium, because it affects the credit spread. Relying on a definition suitable for this environment, we demonstrate that: (i) the natural rate is independent of monetary policy and (ii) it delivers price stability, if used as the intercept of a monetary policy rule. The second result holds exactly if real balances are remunerated at a constant spread below policy interest rates, approximately otherwise. We also highlight, however, that the natural rate is not robust to model un-certainty. The natural rate reacts differently to aggregate shocks - not only quantitatively but also qualitatively - depending on the underlying model assumptions (e.g. whether or not financial markets are frictionless). JEL Classification: E40, E50, G10

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Article provided by Blackwell Publishing in its journal Journal of Money, Credit and Banking.

Volume (Year): 43 (2011)
Issue (Month): (03)
Pages: 407-440

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Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:43:y:2011:i::p:407-440
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  1. Ben Bernanke & Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1998. "The Financial Accelerator in a Quantitative Business Cycle Framework," NBER Working Papers 6455, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. (Kim | Lopez-Salido | Swanson) & Andrew Levin, 2004. "The magnitude and Cyclical Behavior of Financial Market Frictions," Computing in Economics and Finance 2004 224, Society for Computational Economics.
  3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
  4. Timothy S. Fuerst & Charles T. Carlstrom, 1998. "Agency costs and business cycles," Economic Theory, Springer, vol. 12(3), pages 583-597.
  5. Barth, Marvin J III & Ramey, Valerie A, 2000. "The Cost Channel of Monetary Transmissions," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt7rm5q9sk, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  6. Gale, Douglas & Hellwig, Martin, 1985. "Incentive-Compatible Debt Contracts: The One-Period Problem," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 52(4), pages 647-63, October.
  7. Carlstrom, Charles T & Fuerst, Timothy S, 1997. "Agency Costs, Net Worth, and Business Fluctuations: A Computable General Equilibrium Analysis," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 87(5), pages 893-910, December.
  8. Ravenna, Federico & Walsh, Carl E., 2006. "Optimal monetary policy with the cost channel," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 199-216, March.
  9. Queijo, Virginia, 2005. "How Important are Financial Frictions in the U.S. and Euro Area?," Seminar Papers 738, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
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