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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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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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    1. repec:psc:journl:v:10:y:2018:i:4:p:333-353 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. 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.
    3. Belke, Ansgar & Klose, Jens, 2018. "Equilibrium real interest rates, secular stagnation, and the financial cycle: Empirical evidence for euro-area member countries," Ruhr Economic Papers 743, RWI - Leibniz-Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-University Bochum, TU Dortmund University, University of Duisburg-Essen.
    4. 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.
    5. Beck, Guenter W. & Wieland, Volker, 2017. "How to normalize monetary policy in the Euro area," IMFS Working Paper Series 115, Goethe University Frankfurt, Institute for Monetary and Financial Stability (IMFS).
    6. Robert L. Czudaj, 2019. "Is the negative interest rate policy effective?," Chemnitz Economic Papers 034, Department of Economics, Chemnitz University of Technology, revised Dec 2019.
    7. 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.
    8. Krustev, Georgi, 2019. "The natural rate of interest and the financial cycle," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 162(C), pages 193-210.
    9. 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.
    10. 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.
    11. 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.
    12. 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.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. 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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    equlibrium real interest rate; estimation; monetary policy;

    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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