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The Reform of October 1979: How It Happened and Why

Author

Listed:
  • David E. Lindsey

    (before his retirement in 2003: Division of Monetary Affairs at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System)

  • Athanasios Orphanides

    (Division of Monetary Affairs at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Centre for Economic Policy Research, Center for Financial Studies)

  • Robert H. Rasche

    (Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis)

Abstract

This study offers a historical review of the monetary policy reform of October 6, 1979, and discusses the influences behind it and its significance. We lay out the record from the start of 1979 through the spring of 1980, relying almost exclusively upon contemporaneous sources, including the recently released transcripts of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings during 1979. We then present and discuss in detail the reasons for the FOMC’s adoption of the reform and the communications challenge presented to the Committee during this period. Further, we examine whether the essential characteristics of the reform were consistent with monetarism, new, neo, or old-fashioned Keynesianism, nominal income targeting, and inflation targeting. The record suggests that the reform was adopted when the FOMC became convinced that its earlier gradualist strategy using finely tuned interest rate moves had proved inadequate for fighting inflation and reversing inflation expectations. The new plan had to break dramatically with established practice, allow for the possibility of substantial increases in short-term interest rates, yet be politically acceptable, and convince financial markets participants that it would be effective. The new operating procedures were also adopted for the pragmatic reason that they would likely succeed.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Lindsey & Athanasios Orphanides & Robert H. Rasche, 2005. "The Reform of October 1979: How It Happened and Why," CFS Working Paper Series 2005/01, Center for Financial Studies.
  • Handle: RePEc:cfs:cfswop:wp200501
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Caldara, Dario & Fuentes-Albero, Cristina & Gilchrist, Simon & Zakrajšek, Egon, 2016. "The macroeconomic impact of financial and uncertainty shocks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 185-207.
    2. Fredrik N. G. Andersson & Yushu Li, 2020. "Are Central Bankers Inflation Nutters? An MCMC Estimator of the Long-Memory Parameter in a State Space Model," Computational Economics, Springer;Society for Computational Economics, vol. 55(2), pages 529-549, February.
    3. Ascari, Guido & Ropele, Tiziano, 2013. "Disinflation effects in a medium-scale New Keynesian model: Money supply rule versus interest rate rule," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 77-100.
    4. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2013. "Monetary Policy Mistakes and the Evolution of Inflation Expectations," NBER Chapters, in: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking, pages 255-288, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Andreas Beyer & Vitor Gaspar & Christina Gerberding & Otmar Issing, 2013. "Opting Out of the Great Inflation: German Monetary Policy after the Breakdown of Bretton Woods," NBER Chapters, in: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking, pages 301-346, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. David Beckworth & Kenneth P. Moon & J. Holland Toles, 2012. "Can Monetary Policy Influence Long-Term Interest Rates? It Depends," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(4), pages 1080-1096, October.
    7. Dodge Cahan & Luisa Doerr & Niklas Potrafke, 2019. "Government ideology and monetary policy in OECD countries," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 181(3), pages 215-238, December.
    8. Benjamin Pugsley & Hannah Rubinton, 2019. "Inequality in the Welfare Costs of Disinflation," Working Papers 2020-021, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, revised 23 Sep 2021.
    9. Marvin Goodfriend, 2007. "How the World Achieved Consensus on Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 47-68, Fall.
    10. Simon Gilchrist & Egon Zakrajšek, 2020. "Trade Exposure and the Evolution of Inflation Dynamics," Central Banking, Analysis, and Economic Policies Book Series, in: Gonzalo Castex & Jordi Galí & Diego Saravia (ed.),Changing Inflation Dynamics,Evolving Monetary Policy, edition 1, volume 27, chapter 6, pages 173-226, Central Bank of Chile.
    11. Edward Nelson, 2012. "A Review of Allan Meltzer’s A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 8(2), pages 241-266, June.
    12. Ben S. Bernanke, 2013. "A Century of U.S. Central Banking: Goals, Frameworks, Accountability : a speech at the \"The First 100 Years of the Federal Reserve: The Policy Record, Lessons Learned, and Prospects for the Futu," Speech 617, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    13. Athanasios Orphanides, 2006. "The Road to Price Stability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 178-181, May.
    14. James B. Bullard, 2022. "Reflections on the Disinflationary Methods of Poincaré and Thatcher," Speech 94556, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    15. William T. Gavin & Benjamin D. Keen, 2012. "The zero lower bound and the dual mandate," Working Papers 2012-026, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    16. Alan S. Blinder, 2005. "What Have We Learned since October 1979?," Working Papers 97, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
    17. Murray, Christian J. & Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex & Papell, David H., 2015. "Markov Switching And The Taylor Principle," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(4), pages 913-930, June.
    18. Daniel L. Thornton, 2009. "How did we get to inflation targeting and where do we go now? a perspective from the U.S. experience," Working Papers 2009-038, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    19. Kevin Lee & James Morley & Kalvinder Shields, 2015. "The Meta Taylor Rule," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(1), pages 73-98, February.
    20. repec:pri:cepsud:105blinder is not listed on IDEAS
    21. Hagedorn, Marcus, 2011. "Optimal disinflation in new Keynesian models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 248-261.
    22. Ning Zeng, 2015. "Monetary Stability and Stock Returns: A Bivariate Generalized Autoregressive Conditional Heteroscedasticity Modelling Study," Business and Economic Research, Macrothink Institute, vol. 5(2), pages 1-22, December.
    23. Benjamin K. Johannsen & Bradley W. Bateman, 2013. "Rethinking the Monetarist Experience: Monetary Theory and Monetary Policy in the United States," HISTORY OF ECONOMIC THOUGHT AND POLICY, FrancoAngeli Editore, vol. 2013(1), pages 161-179.
    24. Alan S. Blinder, 2005. "What Have We Learned since October 1979?," Working Papers 97, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Federal Reserve; FOMC; Paul Volcker; monetary reform; operating procedures;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes

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