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Instability, imprecision and inconsistent use of equilibrium real interest rate estimates

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  • Beyer, Robert
  • Wieland, Volker

Abstract

The current debate on monetary and fiscal policy is heavily influenced by estimates of the equilibrium real interest rate. In particular, this concerns estimates derived from a simple aggregate demand and Phillips curve model with time-varying components as proposed by Laubach and Williams (2003). For example, Summers (2014a) refers to these estimates as important evidence for a secular stagnation and the need for fiscal stimulus. Yellen (2015, 2017) has made use of such estimates in order to explain and justify why the Federal Reserve has held interest rates so low for so long. First, we re-estimate the U.S. equilibrium rate with the methodology of Laubach and Williams (2003). Then, we build on their approach and the modifications proposed in M�sonnier and Renne (2007) and Garnier and Wilhelmsen (2009) to provide new estimates for the United States, the euro area and Germany. Third, we subject these estimates to a battery of sensitivity tests. Due to the great uncertainty and sensitivity that accompany these equilibrium rate estimates, the observed decline in the estimates is not a reliable indicator of a need for expansionary monetary and fiscal policy. Yet, if these estimates are employed to determine the appropriate monetary policy stance, such estimates are better used together with the consistent estimate of the level of potential output.

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  • Beyer, Robert & Wieland, Volker, 2017. "Instability, imprecision and inconsistent use of equilibrium real interest rate estimates," CEPR Discussion Papers 11927, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11927
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    Cited by:

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    2. Gabriele Fiorentini & Alessandro Galesi & Gabriel Pérez-Quirós & Enrique Sentana, 2018. "The rise and fall of the natural interest rate," Working Papers 1822, Banco de España;Working Papers Homepage.
    3. Beyer, Robert & Milivojevic, Lazar, 2021. "Dynamics and synchronization of global equilibrium interest rates," IMFS Working Paper Series 146, Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS).
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    6. Belke, Ansgar & Klose, Jens, 2018. "Equilibrium Real Interest Rates, Secular Stagnation, and the Financial Cycle: Empirical Evidence for Euro-Area Member Countries," GLO Discussion Paper Series 182, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
    7. Krustev, Georgi, 2019. "The natural rate of interest and the financial cycle," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 193-210.
    8. Razzak, Weshah, 2020. "The Riddle of the Natural Rate of Interest," MPRA Paper 102663, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 25 Aug 2020.
    9. Bystrov Victor, 2018. "Measuring the Natural Rates of Interest in Germany and Italy," Lodz Economics Working Papers 7/2018, University of Lodz, Faculty of Economics and Sociology.
    10. Czudaj, Robert L., 2020. "Is the negative interest rate policy effective?," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 174(C), pages 75-86.
    11. Brand, Claus & Bielecki, Marcin & Penalver, Adrian, 2018. "The natural rate of interest: estimates, drivers, and challenges to monetary policy JEL Classification: E52, E43," Occasional Paper Series 217, European Central Bank.
    12. Jung, Alexander, 2018. "Does McCallum’s rule outperform Taylor’s rule during the financial crisis?," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 69(C), pages 9-21.
    13. Belke, Ansgar & Klose, Jens, 2020. "Equilibrium real interest rates and the financial cycle: Empirical evidence for Euro area member countries," Economic Modelling, Elsevier, vol. 84(C), pages 357-366.
    14. Belke, Ansgar & Klose, Jens, 2019. "Safe haven flows, natural interest rates and secular stagnation: Empirical evidence for euro area countries," Ruhr Economic Papers 831, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    15. Tomohide Mineyama & Wataru Hirata & Kenji Nishizaki, 2019. "Inflation and Social Welfare in a New Keynesian Model: The Case of Japan and the U.S," Bank of Japan Working Paper Series 19-E-10, Bank of Japan.
    16. Bofinger, Peter & Schnabel, Isabel & Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Wieland, Volker, 2017. "Für eine zukunftsorientierte Wirtschaftspolitik. Jahresgutachten 2017/18," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201718.
    17. van Riet Ad, 2019. "Monetary Policy and Unnatural Low Interest Rates: Secular Stagnation or Financial Repression?," Review of Economics, De Gruyter, vol. 70(2), pages 99-135, August.
    18. Hongjin Li & Naifang Su, 2020. "Financial Factors, Openness and the Natural Interest Rate in China," China & World Economy, Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, vol. 28(4), pages 76-100, July.
    19. Fiedler, Salomon & Gern, Klaus-Jürgen & Jannsen, Nils & Wolters, Maik H., 2019. "Growth prospects, the natural interest rate, and monetary policy," Economics - The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Kiel Institute for the World Economy (IfW), vol. 13, pages 1-34.
    20. Feld, Lars P. & Schmidt, Christoph M. & Schnabel, Isabel & Truger, Achim & Wieland, Volker, 2019. "Den Strukturwandel meistern. Jahresgutachten 2019/20," Annual Economic Reports / Jahresgutachten, German Council of Economic Experts / Sachverständigenrat zur Begutachtung der gesamtwirtschaftlichen Entwicklung, volume 127, number 201920.
    21. B. De Backer & J. Wauters, 2017. "The cyclical and structural determinants of the low interest rate environment," Economic Review, National Bank of Belgium, issue ii, pages 69-86, september.

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    Keywords

    equlibrium real interest rate; estimation; monetary policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General
    • 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

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