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The unusual behavior of the federal funds and 10-year Treasury rates: a conundrum or Goodhart’s Law?

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  • Daniel L. Thornton

Abstract

In February 2005, former Chairman Alan Greenspan referred to the decline in long-term rates in the wake of the Fed increasing the target for the federal funds rate by 150 basis points as a “conundrum.” Greenspan’s remarks generated considerable interest and research. I show that the relationship between the 10 year Treasury yield and the federal funds rate changed dramatically in the late 1980s, well in advance of Greenspan’s observation. I argue that the marked change in the relationship between the federal funds rate and long-term yields is a natural consequence of Goodhart’s Law.

Suggested Citation

  • Daniel L. Thornton, 2008. "The unusual behavior of the federal funds and 10-year Treasury rates: a conundrum or Goodhart’s Law?," Working Papers 2007-039, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  • Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2007-039
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Daniel L. Thornton, 2007. "The lower and upper bounds of the Federal Open Market Committee's long-run inflation objective," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 183-194.
    2. Diebold, Francis X. & Chen, Celia, 1996. "Testing structural stability with endogenous breakpoint A size comparison of analytic and bootstrap procedures," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 70(1), pages 221-241, January.
    3. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Eric T. Swanson & Tao Wu, 2006. "The Bond Yield "Conundrum" from a Macro-Finance Perspective," Monetary and Economic Studies, Institute for Monetary and Economic Studies, Bank of Japan, vol. 24(S1), pages 83-109, December.
    4. Troy Davig & Eric M. Leeper, 2007. "Generalizing the Taylor Principle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 607-635, June.
    5. Ben S. Bernanke & Vincent R. Reinhart & Brian P. Sack, 2004. "Monetary Policy Alternatives at the Zero Bound: An Empirical Assessment," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 35(2), pages 1-100.
    6. Don H. Kim & Jonathan H. Wright, 2005. "An arbitrage-free three-factor term structure model and the recent behavior of long-term yields and distant-horizon forward rates," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2005-33, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Kim, Don H. & Orphanides, Athanasios, 2012. "Term Structure Estimation with Survey Data on Interest Rate Forecasts," Journal of Financial and Quantitative Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 47(01), pages 241-272, April.
    8. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Tao Wu, 2007. "Accounting for a Shift in Term Structure Behavior with No-Arbitrage and Macro-Finance Models," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 39(2-3), pages 395-422, March.
    9. Nelson Edward, 2005. "The Great Inflation of the Seventies: What Really Happened?," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-50, July.
    10. William Poole, 2007. "Milton and money stock control," Speech 118, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    11. Thornton, Daniel L., 2004. "The Fed and short-term rates: Is it open market operations, open mouth operations or interest rate smoothing?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 475-498, March.
    12. William Poole & Robert H & Rasche & Daniel L. Thornton, 2002. "Market anticipations of monetary policy actions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 65-94.
    13. Rudebusch, Glenn D., 1995. "Federal Reserve interest rate targeting, rational expectations, and the term structure," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(2), pages 245-274, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Daniel L. Thornton, 2014. "The identification of the response of interest rates to monetary policy actions using market-based measures of monetary policy shocks," Oxford Economic Papers, Oxford University Press, vol. 66(1), pages 67-87, January.
    2. Thornton, Daniel L., 2014. "Monetary policy: Why money matters (and interest rates don’t)," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 40(C), pages 202-213.
    3. 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.

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    Keywords

    Federal funds market (United States) ; Government securities;

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