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Indeterminacy and Learning: An Analysis of Monetary Policy in the Great Inflation

  • Thomas A. Lubik
  • Christian Matthes

We argue in this paper that the Great Inflation of the 1970s can be understood as the result of equilibrium indeterminacy in which loose monetary policy engendered excess volatility in macroeconomic aggregates and prices. We show, however, that the Federal Reserve inadvertently pursued policies that were not anti-inflationary enough because it did not fully understand the economic environment it was operating in. Specifically, it had imperfect knowledge about the structure of the U.S. economy and it was subject to data misperceptions. The real-time data flow at that time did not capture the true state of the economy, as large subsequent revisions showed. It is the combination of learning about the economy and, more importantly, the use of data riddled with measurement error that resulted in policies, which the Federal Reserve believed to be optimal, but when implemented led to equilibrium indeterminacy in the economy.

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File URL: https://cama.crawford.anu.edu.au/sites/default/files/publication/cama_crawford_anu_edu_au/2014-02/16_2014_lubik_matthes.pdf
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Paper provided by Centre for Applied Macroeconomic Analysis, Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University in its series CAMA Working Papers with number 2014-16.

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Length: 51 pages
Date of creation: Feb 2014
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:een:camaaa:2014-16
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  12. 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.
  13. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2008. "Anticipated Utility And Rational Expectations As Approximations Of Bayesian Decision Making," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 49(1), pages 185-221, 02.
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  16. Christian Matthes & Argia M. Sbordone & Timothy Cogley, 2011. "Optimal Disinflation Under Learning," 2011 Meeting Papers 74, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  17. Seth Pruitt, 2012. "Uncertainty Over Models and Data: The Rise and Fall of American Inflation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44, pages 341-365, 03.
  18. Andreas Beyer & Roger E. A. Farmer, 2007. "Testing for Indeterminacy: An Application to U.S. Monetary Policy: Comment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(1), pages 524-529, March.
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