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Uncovering the Relationship between Real Interest Rates and Economic Growth


  • Bruce E. Hansen

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)

  • Ananth Seshadri

    (University of Wisconsin-Madison)


We analyze long-span data on real interest rates and productivity growth with the focus on estimating their long-run correlation. The evidence points to a moderately negative correlation, meaning that real interest rates are mildly countercyclical, although the estimates are not precise. Our best estimate of the long-run correlation is -0.20. The implications for long-term projections are as follows. A negative correlation implies that long-run costs due to a period of low interest rates will tend to be slightly offset by a period of high productivity growth. Conversely, long-run benefits during a period of high interest rates will be offset by low productivity growth. This implication is consistent with the question raised in the project solicitation concerning why the trust fund stochastic simulations tend to show less long-run variability than do the alternative assumption projections. We also examine the implications for the variability of long-term projections of trust fund accumulation. As expected, we find that a negative correlation reduces the variability in the stochastic intervals. However, our simplified calculations suggest that the effect is modest.

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  • Bruce E. Hansen & Ananth Seshadri, 2014. "Uncovering the Relationship between Real Interest Rates and Economic Growth," Working Papers wp303, University of Michigan, Michigan Retirement Research Center.
  • Handle: RePEc:mrr:papers:wp303

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Hansen, Lars Peter, 1982. "Large Sample Properties of Generalized Method of Moments Estimators," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(4), pages 1029-1054, July.
    2. Whitney K. Newey & Kenneth D. West, 1994. "Automatic Lag Selection in Covariance Matrix Estimation," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 61(4), pages 631-653.
    3. Andrews, Donald W K, 1991. "Heteroskedasticity and Autocorrelation Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimation," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 59(3), pages 817-858, May.
    4. Andrews, Donald W K, 1993. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 821-856, July.
    5. Hansen, Bruce E., 2000. "Testing for structural change in conditional models," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 97(1), pages 93-115, July.
    6. Andrews, Donald W K & Ploberger, Werner, 1994. "Optimal Tests When a Nuisance Parameter Is Present Only under the Alternative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1383-1414, November.
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    Cited by:

    1. Wu, Po-Chin & Liu, Shiao-Yen & Hsiao, Juei-Ming & Huang, Tsai-Yuan, 2016. "Nonlinear and time-varying growth-tourism causality," Annals of Tourism Research, Elsevier, vol. 59(C), pages 45-59.

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