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Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policy-Makers' Beliefs and U. S. Postwar Stabilization Policy

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  • Giorgio E. Primiceri

Abstract

This paper provides an explanation for the run-up of U. S. inflation in the 1960s and 1970s and the sharp disinflation in the early 1980s, which standard macroeconomic models have difficulties in addressing. I present a model in which rational policy-makers learn about the behavior of the economy in real time and set stabilization policy optimally, conditional on their current beliefs. The steady state associated with the self-confirming equilibrium of the model is characterized by low inflation. However, prolonged episodes of high inflation ending with rapid disinflations can occur when policy-makers underestimate both the natural rate of unemployment and the persistence of inflation in the Phillips curve. I estimate the model using likelihood methods. The estimation results show that the model accounts remarkably well for the evolution of policy-makers' beliefs, stabilization policy, and the postwar behavior of inflation and unemployment in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2006. "Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policy-Makers' Beliefs and U. S. Postwar Stabilization Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(3), pages 867-901.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:qjecon:v:121:y:2006:i:3:p:867-901.
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1162/qjec.121.3.867
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Rules with Unknown Natural Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 63-146.
    2. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "Drift and Volatilities: Monetary Policies and Outcomes in the Post WWII U.S," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 262-302, April.
    3. Athanasios Orphanides, 2002. "Monetary-Policy Rules and the Great Inflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 115-120, May.
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    More about this item

    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
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

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