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Recent U.S. macroeconomic stability: good policies, good practices or good luck?

  • Shaghil Ahmed
  • Andrew T. Levin
  • Beth Anne Wilson

The volatility of U.S. real GDP growth since 1984 has been markedly lower than that over the previous quarter-century. In this paper, we utilize frequency-domain and VAR methods to distinguish among several competing explanations for this phenomenon: improvements in monetary policy, better business practices, and a fortuitous reduction in exogenous disturbances. We find that reduced innovation variances account for much of the decline in aggregate output volatility. Our results support the "good-luck" hypothesis as the leading explanation for the decline in aggregate output volatility, although "good-practices" and "good-policy" are also contributing factors. Applying the same methods to consumer price inflation, we find that the post-1984 decline in inflation volatility can be attributed largely to improvements in monetary policy.

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Paper provided by Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.) in its series International Finance Discussion Papers with number 730.

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Date of creation: 2002
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedgif:730
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  1. Clarida, R. & Gali, J. & Gertler, M., 1998. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and some Theory," Working Papers 98-01, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  2. Marianne Baxter & Robert G. King, 1999. "Measuring Business Cycles: Approximate Band-Pass Filters For Economic Time Series," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 81(4), pages 575-593, November.
  3. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 1998. "Monetary Policy Shocks: What Have We Learned and to What End?," NBER Working Papers 6400, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. John Ryding, 1990. "Housing finance and the transmission of monetary policy," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sum, pages 42-55.
  5. Margaret M. McConnell & Patricia C. Mosser & Gabriel Perez Quiros, 1999. "A decomposition of the increased stability of GDP growth," Current Issues in Economics and Finance, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, vol. 5(Aug).
  6. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
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