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Nominal stability and Swiss monetary regimes over two centuries



This paper documents nominal stability in Switzerland from 1805 to 2013 using a data set on annual price, wage and nominal GDP changes. The trends of these indicators are estimated by an unobserved-components stochastic-volatility model in order to control for short-term fluctuations and measurement error. Based on a narrative analysis of these trends five main findings emerge. (i) Fiat currency regimes in Switzerland provided a relatively stable monetary background even compared to the metal-currency regimes before WW1. (ii) The flexible inflation targeting regime adopted in December 1999 has performed best over the last two centuries measured by today's definition of nominal stability. (iii) Fiat currency regimes without clearly communicated nominal price anchor (Bretton Woods System and monetary targeting) were characterised by an inflation bias. (iv) The metal-currency regimes (competing currencies and bimetallism before World War 1, and to some extent flexible inflation targeting, were associated with a deflation bias. (v) Persistent deflations in terms of the CPI only occurred under metallic regimes before WW2. These episodes were accompanied by falling nominal GDP, falling employment but relatively stable hourly wages.

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  • Daniel Kaufmann, 2015. "Nominal stability and Swiss monetary regimes over two centuries," KOF Working papers 15-379, KOF Swiss Economic Institute, ETH Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:kof:wpskof:15-379

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Bo E. Honoré & Daniel Kaufmann & Sarah Lein, 2012. "Asymmetries in Price‐Setting Behavior: New Microeconometric Evidence from Switzerland," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 44, pages 211-236, December.
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    5. Reifschneider, David & Willams, John C, 2000. "Three Lessons for Monetary Policy in a Low-Inflation Era," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(4), pages 936-966, November.
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    7. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "Drift and Volatilities: Monetary Policies and Outcomes in the Post WWII U.S," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 262-302, April.
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    12. Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2005. "Time Varying Structural Vector Autoregressions and Monetary Policy," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 821-852.
    13. Scott Sumner, 2014. "Nominal GDP Targeting: A Simple Rule to Improve Fed Performance," Cato Journal, Cato Journal, Cato Institute, vol. 34(2), pages 315-337, Spring/Su.
    14. Summers, Lawrence, 1991. "How Should Long-Term Monetary Policy Be Determined? Panel Discussion," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 23(3), pages 625-631, August.
    15. Peter Rosenkranz & Tobias Straumann & Ulrich Woitek, 2014. "A small open economy in the Great Depression: the case of Switzerland," ECON - Working Papers 164, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
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    Nominal stability; Price stability; Monetary regimes; Monetary history; Unobserved-components stochastic-volatility model;

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