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What is the real story for interest rate volatility?

  • Andreas Hornstein
  • Harald Uhlig

What is the source of interest rate volatility? Why do low interest rates precede business cycle booms? Most observers tend to assume that monetary policy is largely responsible for it. Indeed, a standard real business cycle model delivers rather small fluctuations in real interest rates. Here, however, we present two models of the real business cycle variety in which real rate fluctuations are of similar magnitude as in the data, while simultaneously matching salient business cycle facts. The second model also replicates the cyclical behavior of real interest rates. The models build on recent work by Danthine-Donaldson, Jermann, and Boldrin-Christiano-Fisher. We assume that there are workers and capital owners. The first model posits habit formation and adjustment costs to the stock of capital. The second model assumes that it takes time to plan investment and time to build capital.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond in its series Working Paper with number 99-09.

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Date of creation: 1999
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedrwp:99-09
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  1. Danthine, J.P. & Donaldson, J.B. & Mehra, R., 1992. "The Equity Premium and the Allocation of Income Risk," Papers 92-09, Columbia - Graduate School of Business.
  2. Heaton, John & Lucas, Deborah J, 1996. "Evaluating the Effects of Incomplete Markets on Risk Sharing and Asset Pricing," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(3), pages 443-87, June.
  3. Jean-Pierre DANTHINE & John B. DONALDSON, 1994. "Asset Pricing Implications of Real Market Frictions," Cahiers de Recherches Economiques du Département d'Econométrie et d'Economie politique (DEEP) 9504, Université de Lausanne, Faculté des HEC, DEEP.
  4. Lettau, M. & Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S., 1995. "Can Habit Formation be Reconciled with Business Cycle Facts?," Discussion Paper 1995-54, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
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  7. Cochrane, John H. & Campbell, John, 1999. "By Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Scholarly Articles 3119444, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  8. Greenwood, Jeremy & Hercowitz, Zvi & Huffman, Gregory W, 1988. "Investment, Capacity Utilization, and the Real Business Cycle," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(3), pages 402-17, June.
  9. Philippe Weil, 1989. "The Equity Premium Puzzle and the Riskfree Rate Puzzle," NBER Working Papers 2829, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. S.G. Cecchetti & P. Lam & N.C. Mark, 2010. "The equity premium and the risk-free rate: matching the moments," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1396, David K. Levine.
  11. John H. Cochrane, 1998. "Where is the Market Going? Uncertain Facts and Novel Theories," NBER Working Papers 6207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Robert G. King & Mark W. Watson, 1995. "Money, prices, interest rates and the business cycle," Working Paper Series, Macroeconomic Issues 95-10, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  13. Mankiw, N.G. & Zeldes, S.P., 1990. "The Consumption Of Stockholders And Non-Stockholders," Weiss Center Working Papers 23-90, Wharton School - Weiss Center for International Financial Research.
  14. Mulligan, Casey B & Sala-i-Martin, Xavier, 1996. "Adoption of Financial Technologies: Implications for Money Demand and Monetary Policy," CEPR Discussion Papers 1358, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  15. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1998. "Business Cycle Fluctuations in U.S. Macroeconomic Time Series," NBER Working Papers 6528, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Gary Hansen, 2010. "Indivisible Labor and the Business Cycle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 233, David K. Levine.
  17. Andrew B. Abel, 1990. "Asset Prices under Habit Formation and Catching up with the Joneses," NBER Working Papers 3279, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Krusell, Per & Smith, Anthony A., 1997. "Income And Wealth Heterogeneity, Portfolio Choice, And Equilibrium Asset Returns," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 1(02), pages 387-422, June.
  19. Abel, Andrew B., 1999. "Risk premia and term premia in general equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(1), pages 3-33, February.
  20. Michele Boldrin & Lawrence J. Christiano & Jonas D. M. Fisher, 2000. "Habit persistence, asset returns and the business cycle," Staff Report 280, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
  21. Lettau, M. & Uhlig, H.F.H.V.S., 1997. "Preferences, Consumption Smoothing and Risk Premia," Discussion Paper 1997-60, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  22. R. Mehra & E. Prescott, 2010. "The equity premium: a puzzle," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1401, David K. Levine.
  23. Lettau, Martin & Uhlig, Harald, 1997. "Preferences, Consumption Smoothing, and Risk Premia," CEPR Discussion Papers 1678, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  24. Wouter J. Den Haan, 1996. "Understanding Equilibrium Models with a Small and a Large Number of Agents," NBER Working Papers 5792, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  26. Jermann, Urban J., 1998. "Asset pricing in production economies," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 257-275, April.
  27. den Haan, Wouter J., 1995. "The term structure of interest rates in real and monetary economies," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 19(5-7), pages 909-940.
  28. Lusardi, Annamaria, 1998. "On the Importance of the Precautionary Saving Motive," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 88(2), pages 449-53, May.
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