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Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policymakers' Beliefs and US Postwar Stabilization Policy

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  • Giorgio Primiceri

Abstract

This paper provides an explanation for the run-up of U.S. inflation in the 1960s and 1970s and the sharp disinflation in the early 1980s, which standard macroeconomic models have difficulties in addressing. I present a model in which rational policymakers learn about the behavior of the economy in real time and set stabilization policy optimally, conditional on their current beliefs. The steady state associated with the self-confirming equilibrium of the model is characterized by low inflation. However, prolonged episodes of high inflation ending with rapid disinflations can occur when policymakers underestimate both the natural rate of unemployment and the persistence of inflation in the Phillips curve. I estimate the model using likelihood methods. The estimation results show that the model accounts remarkably well for the evolution of policymakers' beliefs, stabilization policy and the postwar behavior of inflation and unemployment in the United States.

Suggested Citation

  • Giorgio Primiceri, 2005. "Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policymakers' Beliefs and US Postwar Stabilization Policy," NBER Working Papers 11147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:11147
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    1. 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.
    2. Athanasios Orphanides, 2002. "Monetary-Policy Rules and the Great Inflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(2), pages 115-120, May.
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    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E5 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit

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