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Interest sensitivity and volatility reductions: cross-section evidence

  • F. Owen Irvine
  • Scott Schuh
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    As has been widely observed, the volatility of GDP has declined since the mid-1980s compared with prior years. One leading explanation for this decline is that monetary policy improved significantly in the later period. We utilize a cross-section of 2-digit manufacturing and trade industries to further investigate this explanation. Since a major channel through which monetary policy operates is variation in the federal funds rate, we hypothesized that industries that are more interest sensitive should have experienced larger declines in the variance of their outputs in the post-1983 period. We estimate interest-sensitivity measures for each industry from a variety of VAR models and then run cross-sectional regressions explaining industry volatility ratios as a function of their interest-sensitivity measures. These regressions reveal little evidence of a statistically significant relationship between industry volatility reductions and our measures of industry interest sensitivity. This result poses challenges for the hypothesis that improved monetary policy explains the decline in GDP volatility.

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    Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Boston in its series Working Papers with number 05-4.

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    Date of creation: 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedbwp:05-4
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    1. Jean Boivin & Marc Giannoni, 2002. "Assessing changes in the monetary transmission mechanism: a VAR approach," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue May, pages 97-111.
    2. M. V. Cacdac Warnock & Francis E. Warnock, 2000. "The declining volatility of U.S. employment: was Arthur Burns right?," International Finance Discussion Papers 677, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    3. Mark Gertler & Simon Gilchrist, 1993. "Monetary policy, business cycles and the behavior of small manufacturing firms," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 93-4, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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    5. Bernanke, Ben S & Blinder, Alan S, 1992. "The Federal Funds Rate and the Channels of Monetary Transmission," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 82(4), pages 901-21, September.
    6. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2002, Volume 17, pages 159-230 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    11. Richard Clarida & Jordi Gali & Mark Gertler, 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," NBER Working Papers 6442, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    14. Irvine, F. Owen & Schuh, Scott, 2005. "Inventory investment and output volatility," International Journal of Production Economics, Elsevier, vol. 93(1), pages 75-86, January.
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    16. Karl Whelan, 2000. "A guide to the use of chain aggregated NIPA data," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-35, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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