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

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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File URL: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/P/cd/d15b/d1577.pdf
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Paper provided by Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University in its series Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers with number 1577.

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Length: 36 pages
Date of creation: Sep 2006
Date of revision: Mar 2007
Publication status: Published in The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, Vol. 1, Issue 1 (Contributions), Article 12
Handle: RePEc:cwl:cwldpp:1577
Note: CFP 1213
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Web page: http://cowles.econ.yale.edu/
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  1. Fuhrer, Jeffrey C. & Rudebusch, Glenn D., 2004. "Estimating the Euler equation for output," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 51(6), pages 1133-1153, September.
  2. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2002. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," NBER Working Papers 9069, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 1998. "The new neoclassical synthesis and the role of monetary policy," Working Paper 98-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  4. Clarida, Richard & Galí, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 1999. "The Science of Monetary Policy: A New Keynesian Perspective," CEPR Discussion Papers 2139, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Alan S. Blinder & Ricardo Reis, 2005. "Understanding the Greenspan standard," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 11-96.
  6. 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.
  7. Evans, George W. & Ramey, Garey, 2006. "Adaptive expectations, underparameterization and the Lucas critique," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(2), pages 249-264, March.
  8. Fair, Ray C., 2007. "Evaluating Inflation Targeting Using a Macroeconometric Model," Economics Discussion Papers 2007-14, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Jeremy Rudd & Karl Whelan, 2001. "New tests of the New-Keynesian Phillips curve," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-30, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  13. 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.
  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. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  16. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2003. "Choosing the Federal Reserve Chair: Lessons from History," NBER Working Papers 10161, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  17. Brunner, Karl & Meltzer, Allan H., 1976. "The Phillips curve," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 1-18, January.
  18. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
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