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Monetary policy rules, macroeconomic stability and inflation: a view from the trenches

  • Orphanides, Athanasios

I estimate a forward-looking monetary policy reaction function for the Federal Reserve for the periods before and after Paul Volcker's appointment as Chairman in 1979, using information that was available to the FOMC in real time from 1966 to 1995. The results suggest broad similarities in policy and point to a forward looking approach to policy consistent with a strong reaction to inflation forecasts during both periods. This contradicts the hypothesis, based on analysis with ex post constructed data, that the instability of the Great Inflation was the result of weak FOMC policy responses to expected inflation. A difference is that prior to Volcker's appointment, policy was too activist in reacting to perceived output gaps that retrospectively proved overambitious. Drawing on contemporaneous accounts of FOMC policy, I discuss the implications of the findings for alternative explanations of the Great Inflation and the improvement in macroeconomic stability since then JEL Classification: E3, E52, E58

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0115.

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Date of creation: Dec 2001
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20010115
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  1. Bennett T. McCallum, 2001. "Should Monetary Policy Respond Strongly to Output Gaps?," NBER Working Papers 8226, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  24. Athanasios Orphanides & Richard D. Porter & David Reifschneider & Robert Tetlow & Frederico Finan, 1999. "Errors in the measurement of the output gap and the design of monetary policy," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-45, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  25. John B. Taylor, 1999. "A Historical Analysis of Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 319-348 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  37. Orphanides, Athanasios & Wilcox, David W, 2002. "The Opportunistic Approach to Disinflation," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 47-71, Spring.
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  42. 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.
  43. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2002. "Activist stabilization policy and inflation: The Taylor rule in the 1970s," CFS Working Paper Series 2002/15, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
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