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A Comparison of Five Federal Reserve Chairmen: Was Greenspan the Best?

  • Ray C. Fair

This paper examines the performances of the past five Federal Reserve chairmen using optimal control techniques and a macroeconometric model. Each chairman is evaluated in two ways. The first way is comparing the actual performance of the economy under his term relative to what the performance would have been had he behaved optimally. Comparing chairmen only on the basis of the actual performance of the economy is not appropriate because it does not control for different exogenous-variable values and shocks that the Fed has no control over. This comparison is done for a wide range of loss functions. It does not assume that the chairman necessarily behaved by minimizing a loss function; it just compares his actual behavior to what he could have done had he minimized a particular loss function. The second way, on the other hand, assumes that each chairman minimized a loss function, and it chooses for each chairman which of the various loss functions tried comes closest to matching the actual values of the control variable to the optimal values. A summary evaluation of each chairman is presented in Section 6.

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Paper provided by UCLA Department of Economics in its series Levine's Bibliography with number 321307000000000415.

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Date of creation: 22 Sep 2006
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Handle: RePEc:cla:levrem:321307000000000415
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  1. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert King, 1997. "The New Neoclassical Synthesis and the Role of Monetary Policy," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1997, Volume 12, pages 231-296 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Ray C. Fair, 2006. "Evaluating Inflation Targeting Using a Macroeconometric Model," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 1570, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University, revised Mar 2007.
  3. Rudd, Jeremy & Whelan, Karl, 2005. "New tests of the new-Keynesian Phillips curve," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(6), pages 1167-1181, September.
  4. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the business cycle changed?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 9-56.
  5. Evans, George W & Ramey, Garey, 2001. "Adaptive Expectations, Underparameterization and the Lucas Critique," University of California at San Diego, Economics Working Paper Series qt41f2h196, Department of Economics, UC San Diego.
  6. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," NBER Working Papers 7147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Jeffrey C. Fuhrer & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2002. "Estimating the Euler equation for output," Working Papers 02-3, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  8. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  9. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
  10. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  11. Alan S. Blinder & Ricardo Reis, 2005. "Understanding the Greenspan Standard," Working Papers 88, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Center for Economic Policy Studies..
  12. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
  13. Ray C. Fair, 2000. "Testing the NAIRU Model for the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 64-71, February.
  14. Del Negro, Marco & Schorfheide, Frank & Smets, Frank & Wouters, Rafael, 2007. "On the Fit of New Keynesian Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 25, pages 123-143, April.
  15. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2004. "Choosing the Federal Reserve Chair: Lessons from History," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 129-162, Winter.
  16. Ray C. Fair, 1976. "The Use of Optimal Control Techniques to Measure Economic Performance," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 420, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  17. Fair Ray C, 2002. "On Modeling the Effects of Inflation Shocks," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 2(1), pages 1-21, April.
  18. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "The Phillips curve," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, January.
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