IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Login to save this paper or follow this series

Was Japan’s Real Interest Rate Really Too High During the 1990s? The Role of the Zero Interest Rate Bound and Other Factors

  • Ito, Hiro
Registered author(s):

Japan’s more than a decade long “Great Recession†has presented a disconcerting case of what could happen if interest rates are bounded by zero and deflation sets in. Since Krugman (1998), the commonplace observation is that the deflationary situation combined with the zero nominal interest rate has caused elevated real interest rates, thereby nullifying monetary policy. This paper investigates this oft -cited claim and examines whether it is associated with anomalies in the way real interest rates are determined by employing an error correction model (ECM) based on the time-varying parameter model with Markov-switching variances. Using this model it is revealed that during the 1980s both ex ante and ex post rates were often lower than the equilibrium rates, indicating strong and persistent optimism among agents. However in the 1990s the ex ante real interest rate was persistently higher than the equilibrium, indicating the pessimistic expectations among agents. The time-varying speed of convergence to the equilibrium appears to slow down considerably in 1996-99, making the misalignment in the real interest rate process last twice as long as in the 1980s. In addition the analysis using the Smooth Transition Regression (STR) model shows a regime shift in the real rate process in mid-1995, three years before the implementation of the zero interest rate policy. This result suggests that a situation with an extremely low nominal interest rate, even before it reaches the zero bound, may create anomalies or nonlinearity in the effectiveness of monetary policy.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:;origin=repeccitec
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by Department of Economics, UC Santa Cruz in its series Santa Cruz Department of Economics, Working Paper Series with number qt48k5q6vd.

in new window

Date of creation: 30 Nov 2003
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt48k5q6vd
Contact details of provider: Postal: Santa Cruz, CA 95064
Phone: (831) 459-2743
Fax: (831) 459-5077
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Rose, Andrew Kenan, 1988. " Is the Real Interest Rate Stable?," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 43(5), pages 1095-1112, December.
  2. Dick van Dijk & Timo Terasvirta & Philip Hans Franses, 2002. "Smooth Transition Autoregressive Models — A Survey Of Recent Developments," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 21(1), pages 1-47.
  3. R. Kato & S. Nishiyama, 2002. "Optimal Monetary Policy When Interest Rates are Bounded at Zero," Computing in Economics and Finance 2002 8, Society for Computational Economics.
  4. Skalin, Joakim & Ter svirta, Timo, 2002. "Modeling Asymmetries And Moving Equilibria In Unemployment Rates," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 6(02), pages 202-241, April.
  5. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer & Brian Madigan, 1994. "Monetary policy when interest rates are bounded at zero," Working Papers 94-1, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  6. Kuttner, Kenneth N. & Posen, Adam S., 2004. "The difficulty of discerning what's too tight: Taylor rules and Japanese monetary policy," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 53-74, March.
  7. Bekdache, Basma, 1999. "The Time-Varying Behaviour of Real Interest Rates: A Re-evaluation of the Recent Evidence," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(2), pages 171-90, March-Apr.
  8. Mishkin, Frederic S., 1981. "The real interest rate: An empirical investigation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 151-200, January.
  9. Bliss, Christopher, 1999. "The Real Rate of Interest: A Theoretical Analysis," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 46-58, Summer.
  10. Athanasios Orphanides & Volker W. Wieland, 1999. "Efficient monetary policy design near price stability," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-67, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  11. Svensson, Lars, 2000. "The Zero Bound in an Open Economy: A Foolproof Way of Escaping from a Liquidity Trap," Seminar Papers 687, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
  12. M. Fase, 2005. "On Economics and Religion," De Economist, Springer, vol. 153(1), pages 85-106, December.
  13. Franses,Philip Hans & Dijk,Dick van, 2000. "Non-Linear Time Series Models in Empirical Finance," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521779654, October.
  14. Black, Fischer, 1995. " Interest Rates as Options," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 50(5), pages 1371-76, December.
  15. Carl E. Walsh, 1987. "Three questions concerning nominal and real interest rates," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Fall, pages 5-19.
  16. Marvin Goodfriend, 2000. "Overcoming the zero bound on interest rate policy," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 1007-1057.
  17. Allsopp, Christopher & Glyn, Andrew, 1999. "The Assessment: Real Interest Rates," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 15(2), pages 1-16, Summer.
  18. David Amirault & Brian O'Reilly, 2001. "The Zero Bound on Nominal Interest Rates: How Important Is It?," Working Papers 01-6, Bank of Canada.
  19. Garcia, R. & Perron, P., 1994. "An Analysis of the Real Interest rate Under Regime Shifts," Cahiers de recherche 9428, Universite de Montreal, Departement de sciences economiques.
  20. David L. Reifschneider & John C. Williams, 1999. "Three lessons for monetary policy in a low inflation era," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-44, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  21. Lundbergh, Stefan & Teräsvirta, Timo, 1998. "Modelling economic high-frequency time series with STAR-STGARCH models," SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Economics and Finance 291, Stockholm School of Economics.
  22. Huizinga, John & Mishkin, Frederic S., 1986. "Monetary policy regime shifts and the unusual behavior of real interest rates," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(1), pages 231-274, January.
  23. Alan S. Blinder, 2000. "Summary panel: monetary policy at the zero lower bound: balancing the risks," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 1093-1099.
  24. Hamilton, James D., 1988. "Rational-expectations econometric analysis of changes in regime : An investigation of the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 385-423.
  25. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1, December.
  26. Blinder, Alan S, 2000. "Monetary Policy at the Zero Lower Bound: Balancing the Risks: Summary Panel," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 1093-99, November.
  27. Chang-Jin Kim & Charles R. Nelson, 1999. "State-Space Models with Regime Switching: Classical and Gibbs-Sampling Approaches with Applications," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262112388, June.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cdl:ucscec:qt48k5q6vd. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Lisa Schiff)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.