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A Monetary Explanation Of The Great Stagflation Of The 1970s


  • Barsky, Robert
  • Kilian, Lutz


The origins of stagflation and the possibility of its recurrence continue to be an important concern among policymakers and in the popular press. It is common to associate the origins of the Great Stagflation of the 1970s with the two major oil price increases of 1973/74 and 1979/80. This paper argues that oil price increases were not nearly as essential a part of the causal mechanism generating stagflation as is often thought. We provide a model that can explain the bulk of stagflation by monetary expansions and contractions without reference to supply shocks. Monetary fluctuations also help to explain variations in the price of oil (and other commodities) and help to account for the striking coincidence of major oil price increases and worsening stagflation. In contrast, there is no theoretical presumption that oil supply shocks are stagflationary. In particular, we show that oil supply shocks may quite plausibly lower the GDP deflator and that there is little independent evidence that oil supply shocks actually raised the deflator (as opposed to the CPI). The oil supply shock view also fails to explain the dramatic surge in the price of other industrial commodities that preceded the 1973/74 oil price increase and the fact that increases in industrial commodity prices lead oil price increases in the OPEC period.

Suggested Citation

  • Barsky, Robert & Kilian, Lutz, 2000. "A Monetary Explanation Of The Great Stagflation Of The 1970s," CEPR Discussion Papers 2389, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:2389

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ben S. Bernanke & Ilian Mihov, 1998. "Measuring Monetary Policy," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 113(3), pages 869-902.
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    7. Laurence Ball & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1995. "Relative-Price Changes as Aggregate Supply Shocks," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 110(1), pages 161-193.
    8. Ben S. Bernanke & Mark Gertler, 1995. "Inside the Black Box: The Credit Channel of Monetary Policy Transmission," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(4), pages 27-48, Fall.
    9. Bernanke, Ben S & Blinder, Alan S, 1992. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 901-921, September.
    10. Boschen, John F & Mills, Leonard O, 1995. "The Relation between Narrative and Money Market Indicators of Monetary Policy," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 33(1), pages 24-44, January.
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    1. repec:taf:applec:v:48:y:2016:i:55:p:5340-5347 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Yashiv, Eran, 2004. "The self selection of migrant workers revisited," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 19933, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    3. repec:kap:jculte:v:41:y:2017:i:2:d:10.1007_s10824-017-9294-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Oladosu, Gbadebo, 2009. "Identifying the oil price-macroeconomy relationship: An empirical mode decomposition analysis of US data," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 37(12), pages 5417-5426, December.

    More about this item


    Commodity Prices; Monetary Policy; Oil Market; Stagflation;

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General


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