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Monetary policy rules, macroeconomic stability and inflation: a view from the trenches

  • Athanasios Orphanides

I estimate a forward-looking monetary policy reaction function for the Federal Reserve for the periods before and after Paul Volcker's appointment as Chairman in 1979, using information that was available to the FOMC in real time from 1966 to 1995. The results suggest broad similarities in policy and point to a forward looking approach to policy consistent with a strong reaction to inflation forecasts during both periods. This contradicts the hypothesis, based on analysis with ex post constructed data, that the instability of the Great Inflation was the result of weak FOMC policy responses to expected inflation. A difference is that prior to Volcker's appointment, policy was too activist in reacting to perceived output gaps that retrospectively proved overambitious. Drawing on contemporaneous accounts of FOMC policy, I discuss the implications of the findings for alternative explanations of the Great Inflation and the improvement in macroeconomic stability since then.

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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 2001-62.

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Date of creation: 2001
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2001-62
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  2. Athanasios Orphanides & Simon Van_Norden, 2000. "The Reliability of Output Gap Estimates in Real Time," Econometric Society World Congress 2000 Contributed Papers 0768, Econometric Society.
  3. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
  4. Athanasios Orphanides, 2000. "Activist stabilization policy and inflation: the Taylor rule in the 1970s," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2000-13, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  11. Orphanides, Athanasios & Porter, Richard D. & Reifschneider, David & Tetlow, Robert & Finan, Frederico, 2000. "Errors in the measurement of the output gap and the design of monetary policy," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 117-141.
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  18. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "The quest for prosperity without inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 633-663, April.
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  23. Frank Smets, 2002. "Output gap uncertainty: Does it matter for the Taylor rule?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 113-129.
  24. Orphanides, Athanasios & Wilcox, David W, 2002. "The Opportunistic Approach to Disinflation," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 47-71, Spring.
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