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The great inflation: did the shadow know better?

  • William Poole
  • Robert H. Rasche
  • David C. Wheelock

The Shadow Open Market Committee was formed in 1973 in response to rising inflation and the apparent unwillingness of U.S. policymakers to implement policies necessary to maintain price stability. This paper describes how the Committee's policy views differed from those of most Federal Reserve officials and many academic economists at the time. The Shadow argued that price stability should be the primary goal of monetary policy, and favored gradual adjustment of monetary growth to a rate consistent with price stability. The paper evaluates the Shadow's policy rule in the context of the New Keynesian macroeconomic model of Clarida, Gali and Gertler (1999). Simulations of the model suggest that the gradual stabilization of monetary growth favored by the Shadow would have lowered inflation with less impact on output growth, and with less variability in output and inflation, than a one-time reduction in monetary growth. We conclude that the Shadow articulated a sensible policy that would have outperformed the policies actually implemented by the Federal Reserve during the Great Inflation era.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2008-032.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2008-032
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  2. Phelps, Edmund S, 1978. "Commodity-Supply Shock and Full-Employment Monetary Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 10(2), pages 206-21, May.
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  18. Allan H. Meltzer, 1963. "The Demand for Money: The Evidence from the Time Series," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 71, pages 219.
  19. Charles Calomiris & David Wheelock, 1998. "Was the Great Depression a Watershed for American Monetary Policy?," NBER Chapters, in: The Defining Moment: The Great Depression and the American Economy in the Twentieth Century, pages 23-66 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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