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Shocks and government beliefs: the rise and fall of American inflation

  • Thomas Sargent
  • Noah Williams
  • Tao Zha

The authors use a Bayesian Markov chain Monte Carlo algorithm to estimate a model that allows temporary gaps between a true expectational Phillips curve and the monetary authority’s approximating nonexpectational Phillips curve. A dynamic programming problem implies that the monetary authority’s inflation target evolves as its estimated Phillips curve moves. The authors’ estimates attribute the rise and fall of post-World War II inflation in the United States to an intricate interaction between the monetary authority’s beliefs and economic shocks. Shocks in the 1970s altered the monetary authority’s estimates and made it misperceive the tradeoff between inflation and unemployment. That misperception caused a sharp rise in inflation in the 1970s. The authors’ estimates indicate that policy makers updated their beliefs continuously. By the 1980s, policy makers’ beliefs about the Phillips curve had changed enough to account for Fed chairman Paul Volcker’s conquest of U.S. inflation in the early 1980s.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta in its series Working Paper with number 2004-22.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedawp:2004-22
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  1. Peter N. Ireland, 2005. "Changes in the Federal Reserve's inflation target: causes and consequences," Working Papers 05-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
  2. John Geweke, 1999. "Using simulation methods for bayesian econometric models: inference, development,and communication," Econometric Reviews, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 18(1), pages 1-73.
  3. Henry W. Chappell, Jr. & Rob Roy McGregor & Todd A. Vermilyea, 2005. "Committee Decisions on Monetary Policy: Evidence from Historical Records of the Federal Open Market Committee," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262033305, June.
  4. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2003. "Drifts and volatilities: monetary policies and outcomes in the post WWII U.S," Working Paper 2003-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  5. Thomas J. Sargent & Noah William, 2005. "Impacts of Priors on Convergence and Escapes from Nash Inflation," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 360-391, April.
  6. Cho, In-Koo & Williams, Noah & Sargent, Thomas J, 2002. "Escaping Nash Inflation," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 69(1), pages 1-40, January.
  7. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1977. "Rules Rather Than Discretion: The Inconsistency of Optimal Plans," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 85(3), pages 473-91, June.
  8. James D. Hamilton & Daniel F. Waggoner & Tao Zha, 2004. "Normalization in econometrics," Working Paper 2004-13, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  9. Robert G. King & Mark W. Watson, 1994. "The post-war U.S. Phillips curve: a revisionist econometric history," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 94-14, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  10. William Poole & Robert H. Rasche, 2002. "Flation," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Nov, pages 1-6.
    • William Poole, 2002. "Flation," Speech 49, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  11. Sims, Christopher A & Zha, Tao, 1998. "Bayesian Methods for Dynamic Multivariate Models," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 39(4), pages 949-68, November.
  12. Cogley, Timothy & Sargent, Thomas J., 2005. "The conquest of U.S. inflation: learning and robustness to model uncertainty," Working Paper Series 0478, European Central Bank.
  13. Ireland, Peter N., 1999. "Does the time-consistency problem explain the behavior of inflation in the United States?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 44(2), pages 279-291, October.
  14. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
  15. 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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