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The natural real interest rate and the output gap in the euro area: A joint estimation


  • Julien Garnier

    (European University Institute and University of Paris X-Nanterre)

  • Bjørn-Roger Wilhelmsen

    (Norges Bank (Central Bank of Norway))


The notion of a natural real rate of interest, due to Wicksell (1936), is widely used in current central bank research. The idea is that there exists a level at which the real interest rate would be compatible with output at its potential level and stationary inflation. Such a consept is of primary concern for monetary policy because it provides a benchmark for the monetary policy stance. This paper applies the method recently suggested by T. Laubach and J. C. Williams to jointly estimate the natural real interest rate and the output gap in the euro area using data from 1960. Our results suggest that the natural real rate of interest has declined gradually over the past 40 years. They also indicate that monetary policy in the euro area was on average stimulative during the 1960s and the 1970s, while it contributed to dampen the output gap and inflation in the 1980s and 1990s.

Suggested Citation

  • Julien Garnier & Bjørn-Roger Wilhelmsen, 2005. "The natural real interest rate and the output gap in the euro area: A joint estimation," Working Paper 2005/14, Norges Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:bno:worpap:2005_14

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Nelson, Edward & Nikolov, Kalin, 2003. "UK inflation in the 1970s and 1980s: the role of output gap mismeasurement," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 55(4), pages 353-370.
    2. Jens D J Larsen & Jack McKeown, 2003. "The informational content of empirical measures of real interst rate and output gaps for the United Kingdom," BIS Papers chapters,in: Bank for International Settlements (ed.), Monetary policy in a changing environment, volume 19, pages 414-442 Bank for International Settlements.
    3. Nelson Edward, 2005. "The Great Inflation of the Seventies: What Really Happened?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-50, July.
    4. Andrew T.. Levin & Volker Wieland & John Williams, 1999. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 263-318 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Ford, Robert & Laxton, Douglas, 1999. "World Public Debt and Real Interest Rates," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 77-94, Summer.
    6. Neiss, Katharine S. & Nelson, Edward, 2003. "The Real-Interest-Rate Gap As An Inflation Indicator," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 239-262, April.
    7. Thomas Laubach & John C. Williams, 2003. "Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1063-1070, November.
    8. Nelson, Edward & Nikolov, Kalin, 2004. "Monetary Policy and Stagflation in the UK," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(3), pages 293-318, June.
    9. Cour-Thimann, Philippine & Pilegaard, Rasmus & Stracca, Livio, 2006. "The output gap and the real interest rate gap in the euro area, 1960-2003," Journal of Policy Modeling, Elsevier, vol. 28(7), pages 775-790, October.
    10. Jesús Cuaresma & Ernest Gnan & Doris Ritzberger-Gruenwald, 2004. "Searching for the natural rate of interest: a euro area perspective," Economic Change and Restructuring, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 185-204, June.
    11. Jesús Cuaresma & Ernest Gnan & Doris Ritzberger-Gruenwald, 2004. "Searching for the natural rate of interest: a euro area perspective," Empirica, Springer;Austrian Institute for Economic Research;Austrian Economic Association, vol. 31(2), pages 185-204, June.
    12. Agustín Maravall, 1996. "Unobserved Components in Economic Time Series," Working Papers 9609, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    13. John C. Williams, 2003. "The natural rate of interest," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue oct31.
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    More about this item


    Real interest rate gap; output gap; Kalman filter; euro area;

    JEL classification:

    • C32 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Multiple or Simultaneous Equation Models; Multiple Variables - - - Time-Series Models; Dynamic Quantile Regressions; Dynamic Treatment Effect Models; Diffusion Processes; State Space Models
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • O40 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Growth and Aggregate Productivity - - - General

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