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The Level and Volatility of Interest Rates in the United States: The Roles of Expected Inflation, Real Rates, and Taxes

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  • John H. Makin
  • Vito Tanzi

Abstract

This paper attempts to demonstrate a need to expand the simple Fisherian view whereby changes in interest rates are explained largely by changes in expected inflation. It presents and tests a model of expected, after-tax real interest rate behavior which, together with a group of explanatory variables suggested by a structural model, takes full account of implications of a broad range of U.S. tax code provisions for behavior of interest rates. Determinants of interest rate volatility are also investigated.The model and results of empirical testing suggest:(1) why the measured impact on interest rates of changes in anticipated inflation has been below levels anticipated by many investigators; (2) how the measured impact on interest rates of explanatory variables is conditional on tax rates which may change over time; (3) larger than expected fiscal deficits have a moderate positive impact on interest rates (40 basis points per 100 billion annual rise for three-month Treasury bills) while lower than expected money growth may also raise interest rates (as iri the second quarter of 1981 when it did so by an estimated 24 basis points);(4) inflation uncertainty produces no significant impact on interest rates due to the econometric effect of including a measure of excess capacity; (5) an unexpected rise in money demand may be responsible for persistently higher interest rates during the first half of 1982 but during most of the 1960-82 period money supply shocks had a more powerful impact on interest rates.

Suggested Citation

  • John H. Makin & Vito Tanzi, 1983. "The Level and Volatility of Interest Rates in the United States: The Roles of Expected Inflation, Real Rates, and Taxes," NBER Working Papers 1167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:1167
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Cukierman, Alex & Wachtel, Paul, 1982. "Relative Price Variability and Nonuniform Inflationary Expectations," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(1), pages 146-157, February.
    2. Charles Engel & Jeffrey A. Frankel, 1982. "Why money announcements move interest rates: an answer from the foreign exchange market," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue 6, pages 1-36.
    3. Fama, Eugene F, 1975. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 269-282, June.
    4. Mishkin, Frederic S., 1981. "The real interest rate: An empirical investigation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 151-200, January.
    5. Peek, Joe, 1982. "Interest Rates, Income Taxes, and Anticipated Inflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 72(5), pages 980-991, December.
    6. Blinder, Alan S. & Fischer, Stanley, 1981. "Inventories, rational expectations, and the business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 8(3), pages 277-304.
    7. Mohsin S. Khan, 1980. "Monetary Shocks and the Dynamics of Inflation (Les chocs monétaires et la dynamique de l'inflation) (Los "choques" monetarios y la dinámica de la inflación)," IMF Staff Papers, Palgrave Macmillan, vol. 27(2), pages 250-284, June.
    8. Richard Hartman & John H. Makin, 1982. "Inflation Uncertainty and Interest Rates: Theory and Empirical Tests," NBER Working Papers 0906, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. Martin Feldstein, 1983. "Inflation, Income Taxes, and the Rate of Interest: A Theoretical Analysis," NBER Chapters, in: Inflation, Tax Rules, and Capital Formation, pages 28-43, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Levi, Maurice D & Makin, John H, 1978. "Anticipated Inflation and Interest Rates: Further Interpretation of Findings on the Fisher Equation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(5), pages 801-812, December.
    11. Makin, John H, 1982. "Anticipated Money, Inflation Uncertainty and Real Economic Activity," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 64(1), pages 126-134, February.
    12. Darby, Michael R, 1975. "The Financial and Tax Effects of Monetary Policy on Interest Rates," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 13(2), pages 266-276, June.
    13. Robert Mundell, 1963. "Inflation and Real Interest," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 71, pages 280-280.
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    Cited by:

    1. Yash P. Mehra, 1984. "The tax effect, and the recent behaviours of the after-tax real rate : is it too high?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, vol. 70(Jul), pages 8-20.
    2. John A. Tatom, 1984. "Interest rate variability: its link to the variability of monetary growth and economic performance," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 66(Nov), pages 31-47.
    3. A. Steven Holland, 1984. "Real interest rates: what accounts for their recent rise?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, vol. 66(Dec), pages 18-29.
    4. Patric H. Hendershott, 1986. "Debt and Equity Returns Revisited," NBER Chapters, in: Financing Corporate Capital Formation, pages 35-50, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Hendershott, Patric H, 1984. "Expectations, Surprises and Treasury Bill Rates: 1960-82," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 39(3), pages 685-696, July.

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