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The reform of October 1979: how it happened and why

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  • David E. Lindsey
  • Athanasios Orphanides
  • Robert H. Rasche

Abstract

This study offers a historical review of the monetary policy reform of October 6, 1979, and discusses the influences behind it and its significance. We lay out the record from the start of 1979 through the spring of 1980, relying almost exclusively upon contemporaneous sources, including the recently released transcripts of Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meetings during 1979. We then present and discuss in detail the reasons for the FOMC's adoption of the reform and the communications challenge presented to the Committee during this period. Further, we examine whether the essential characteristics of the reform were consistent with monetarism, new, neo, or old-fashioned Keynesianism, nominal income targeting, and inflation targeting. The record suggests that the reform was adopted when the FOMC became convinced that its earlier gradualist strategy using finely tuned interest rate moves had proved inadequate for fighting inflation and reversing inflation expectations. The new plan had to break dramatically with established practice, allow for the possibility of substantial increases in short-term interest rates, yet be politically acceptable, and convince financial markets participants that it would be effective. The new operating procedures were also adopted for the pragmatic reason that they would likely succeed.

Suggested Citation

  • David E. Lindsey & Athanasios Orphanides & Robert H. Rasche, 2005. "The reform of October 1979: how it happened and why," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-02, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgfe:2005-02
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    2. Johannes, James M & Rasche, Robert H, 1981. "Can the Reserves Approach to Monetary Control Really Work?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 13(3), pages 298-313, August.
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    Cited by:

    1. Caldara, Dario & Fuentes-Albero, Cristina & Gilchrist, Simon & Zakrajšek, Egon, 2016. "The macroeconomic impact of financial and uncertainty shocks," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 88(C), pages 185-207.
    2. Ascari, Guido & Ropele, Tiziano, 2013. "Disinflation effects in a medium-scale New Keynesian model: Money supply rule versus interest rate rule," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 61(C), pages 77-100.
    3. Kevin Lee & James Morley & Kalvinder Shields, 2015. "The Meta Taylor Rule," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 47(1), pages 73-98, February.
    4. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2012. "Monetary Policy Mistakes and the Evolution of Inflation Expectations," NBER Chapters,in: The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking, pages 255-288 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Murray, Christian J. & Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex & Papell, David H., 2015. "Markov Switching And The Taylor Principle," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 19(04), pages 913-930, June.
    6. Andreas Beyer & Vitor Gaspar & Christina Gerberding & Otmar Issing, 2008. "Opting Out of the Great Inflation: German Monetary Policy After the Break Down of Bretton Woods," NBER Working Papers 14596, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Daniel L. Thornton, 2009. "How did we get to inflation targeting and where do we go now? a perspective from the U.S. experience," Working Papers 2009-038, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    8. Athanasios Orphanides, 2006. "The Road to Price Stability," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(2), pages 178-181, May.
    9. Marvin Goodfriend, 2007. "How the World Achieved Consensus on Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 21(4), pages 47-68, Fall.
    10. David Beckworth & Kenneth P. Moon & J. Holland Toles, 2012. "Can Monetary Policy Influence Long-Term Interest Rates? It Depends," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 50(4), pages 1080-1096, October.
    11. Hagedorn, Marcus, 2011. "Optimal disinflation in new Keynesian models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 58(3), pages 248-261.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Federal Open Market Committee ; Monetary policy - United States;

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • E61 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Policy Objectives; Policy Designs and Consistency; Policy Coordination
    • E65 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - Studies of Particular Policy Episodes

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