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Measuring equilibrium real interest rates: what can we learn from yields on indexed bonds?

  • Antulio N. Bomfim
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    What does the level of the real interest rates tell us about where the economy, or one's portfolio, is headed? The answer to this question depends on one's estimate of the ``equilibrium'' value of real interest rates, a measure that is unfortunately not directly observed in the market place. In this paper, I provide a brief overview of some of the existing approaches to defining and measuring equilibrium real rates and introduce a novel method based on yields on the U.S. Treasury's inflation-indexed securities (TIIS). I discuss a simple framework for analyzing TIIS yields and illustrate how to use them to gauge the stance of monetary policy and overall economic prospects.

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    Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series Finance and Economics Discussion Series with number 2001-53.

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    Date of creation: 2001
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    Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2001-53
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    1. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell & Kermit L. Schoenholtz, 1983. "Forward Rates and Future Policy: Interpreting the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 14(1), pages 173-224.
    2. Lars E. O. Svensson, 1994. "Estimating and Interpreting Forward Interest Rates; Sweden 1992-1994," IMF Working Papers 94/114, International Monetary Fund.
    3. Bomfim, Antulio N, 1997. "The Equilibrium Fed Funds Rate and the Indicator Properties of Term-Structure Spreads," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 830-46, October.
    4. Thomas Laubach & John C. Williams, 2003. "Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1063-1070, November.
    5. Robert A. Jarrow, 2009. "The Term Structure of Interest Rates," Annual Review of Financial Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 69-96, November.
    6. 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.
    7. Flint Brayton & Peter A. Tinsley, 1996. "A guide to FRB/US: a macroeconomic model of the United States," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-42, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    8. Shiller, Robert J, 1979. "The Volatility of Long-Term Interest Rates and Expectations Models of the Term Structure," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 87(6), pages 1190-1219, December.
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