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Natural rate doubts

  • Beyer, Andreas
  • Farmer, Roger E. A.

We study the low frequency comovements in unemployment, inflation and the federal funds rate in the U.S. From 1970 through 1979 all three series trended up together; after 1979 they all trended down. The conventional explanation for the buildup of inflation in the 1970's is that the Fed reacted to an increase in the natural rate of unemployment by conducting an overly passive monetary policy. We show that this explanation is difficult to reconcile with the observed comovement of the fed funds rate and inflation. We argue instead that the source of the inflation buildup in the 1970's was a downward drift in the real interest rate that was translated into a simultaneous increase in unemployment and inflation by passive Fed policy. Our explanation relies on the existence in the data of an upward sloping long run Phillips curve. JEL Classification: C32, E3, E43, E58

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Paper provided by European Central Bank in its series Working Paper Series with number 0121.

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Date of creation: Feb 2002
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Handle: RePEc:ecb:ecbwps:20020121
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  1. Robert G. King & Mark W. Watson, 1992. "Testing long run neutrality," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 92-18, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  2. Stock, James H & Watson, Mark W, 1993. "A Simple Estimator of Cointegrating Vectors in Higher Order Integrated Systems," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 783-820, July.
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  8. Jess Benhabib & Roger Farmer, 1998. "The Monetary Transmission Mechanism," Levine's Working Paper Archive 2055, David K. Levine.
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  11. Robert J. Gordon, 1996. "The Time-Varying NAIRU and its Implications for Economic Policy," NBER Working Papers 5735, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Fisher, Mark E & Seater, John J, 1993. "Long-Run Neutrality and Superneutrality in an ARIMA Framework," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(3), pages 402-15, June.
  13. Laurence M. Ball, 1997. "Disinflation and the NAIRU," NBER Chapters, in: Reducing Inflation: Motivation and Strategy, pages 167-194 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Peter N. Ireland, 1998. "Does the Time-Consistency Problem Explain the Behavior of Inflation in the United States?," Boston College Working Papers in Economics 415, Boston College Department of Economics.
  15. Grant, Alan P., 2002. "Time-varying estimates of the natural rate of unemployment: a revisitation of Okun's law," The Quarterly Review of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 42(1), pages 95-113.
  16. Johansen, Soren, 1988. "Statistical analysis of cointegration vectors," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 12(2-3), pages 231-254.
  17. Rudebusch, Glenn D, 1998. "Do Measures of Monetary Policy in a VAR Make Sense? A Reply," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 943-48, November.
  18. Christopher A. Sims & Tao Zha, 2006. "Were There Regime Switches in U.S. Monetary Policy?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(1), pages 54-81, March.
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  24. repec:fth:starer:9613 is not listed on IDEAS
  25. Athanasios Orphanides, 1998. "Monetary policy rules based on real-time data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1998-03, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  26. Henrik Hansen & Søren Johansen, 1999. "Some tests for parameter constancy in cointegrated VAR-models," Econometrics Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 2(2), pages 306-333.
  27. Katarina Juselius, 2001. "European integration and monetary transmission mechanisms: the case of Italy," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(3), pages 341-358.
  28. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  29. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "The NAIRU, Unemployment and Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 33-49, Winter.
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