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What Does The Term Structure Tell Us About Future Inflation?

  • MISHKIN, F.S.

This paper examines empirically what the term structure of interest rates tells us about future inflation. The evidence indicates that the information in the term structure about the future path of inflation is quite different at the shortest end of the term structure (maturities six months or less) than it is for maturities of nine to twelve months. For maturities of six months or less, in all the sample periods examined -- February 1964 to December 1986, 1964 to October 1979, November 1979 to October 1982, November 1982 to December 1986 -- the term structure provides almost no information about the future path of inflation. On the other hand at this end of the term structure, the results do indicate that the term structure of nominal interest rates contain a great deal of information about the term structure of real interest rates. This finding is quite important because it suggests that researchers can examine observable data on the shortest end of the nominal term structure to provide them with information about the behavior of the real term structure. For maturities of nine and twelve months, the term structure does appear to contain information about the future path of inflation in the full sample period and in the sub-periods before October 1982. At these longer maturities, however, there does not appear to be much information in the nominal term structure about the term structure of real interest rates. The evidence in this paper suggests that some caution should be exercised in using the term structure of interest rates as a guide for assessing inflationary pressures in the economy, as is currently under consideration by the Federal Reserve. Although there is apparently significant information in the term structure about the future path of inflation for maturities greater than six months, there is no information about the future path of inflation that can be obtained from the shorter end of the term structure.

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Paper provided by Columbia - Graduate School of Business in its series Papers with number fb-_88-29.

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Length: 25 pages
Date of creation: 1988
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:fth:colubu:fb-_88-29
Contact details of provider: Postal: U.S.A.; COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS, PAINE WEBBER , New York, NY 10027 U.S.A
Phone: (212) 854-5553
Web page: http://www.gsb.columbia.edu/

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  1. John Y. Campbell & Robert J. Shiller, 1986. "Cointegration and Tests of Present Value Models," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 785, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  2. Hansen, Lars Peter & Hodrick, Robert J, 1980. "Forward Exchange Rates as Optimal Predictors of Future Spot Rates: An Econometric Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 88(5), pages 829-53, October.
  3. Nelson, Charles R & Schwert, G William, 1977. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation: On Testing the Hypothesis That the Real Rate of Interest is Constant," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 478-86, June.
  4. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-38, May.
  5. Startz, Richard, 1982. "Do forecast errors or term premia really make the difference between long and short rates?," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(3), pages 323-329, November.
  6. John Huizinga & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1984. "Inflation and Real Interest Rates on Assets with Different Risk Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 1333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Blanchard, Olivier J, 1984. "The Lucas Critique and the Volcker Deflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 74(2), pages 211-15, May.
  8. Newey, Whitney & West, Kenneth, 2014. "A simple, positive semi-definite, heteroscedasticity and autocorrelation consistent covariance matrix," Applied Econometrics, Publishing House "SINERGIA PRESS", vol. 33(1), pages 125-132.
  9. Robert J. Shiller & John Y. Campbell & Kermit L. Schoenholtz, 1983. "Forward Rates and Future Policy: Interpreting the Term Structure of Interest Rates," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 667, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  10. Fama, Eugene F, 1975. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 269-82, June.
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