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The Great Inflation Drift

  • Marvin Goodfriend
  • Robert G. King

A standard statistical perspective on the U.S. Great Inflation is that it involves an increase in the stochastic trend rate of inflation, defined as the long-term forecast of inflation at each point in time. That perspective receives support from two sources: the behavior of long-term interest rates which are generally supposed to contain private sector forecasts, and statistical studies of U.S. inflation dynamics. We show that a textbook macroeconomic model delivers such a stochastic inflation trend, when there are shifts in the growth rate of capacity output, under two behavioral hypotheses about the central bank: (i) that it seeks to maintain output at capacity; and (ii) that it seeks to maintain continuity of the short-term interest rate. The theory then identifies major upswings in trend inflation with unexpectedly slow growth of capacity output. We interpret the rise of inflation in the U.S. from the perspective of this simple macroeconomic framework.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14862.

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Date of creation: Apr 2009
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as The Great Inflation Drift , Marvin Goodfriend, Robert G. King. in The Great Inflation: The Rebirth of Modern Central Banking , Bordo and Orphanides. 2013
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14862
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  1. Marvin Goodfriend, 2004. "Monetary policy in the new neoclassical synthesis : a primer," Economic Quarterly, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, issue Sum, pages 21-45.
  2. Susanto Basu & John Fernald & Miles Kimball, 2004. "Are Technology Improvements Contractionary?," NBER Working Papers 10592, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Calvo, Guillermo A., 1983. "Staggered prices in a utility-maximizing framework," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 12(3), pages 383-398, September.
  4. Broadbent, Ben & Barro, Robert J., 1997. "Central bank preferences and macroeconomic equilibrium," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 17-43, June.
  5. Christina D. Romer and David H. Romer., 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," Economics Working Papers 89-107, University of California at Berkeley.
  6. Michael Woodford, 2007. "How Important is Money in the Conduct of Monetary Policy?," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001419, David K. Levine.
  7. Poole, William, 1991. "Interest rates and the conduct of monetary policy : A comment," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 31-39, January.
  8. N. Gregory Mankiw & Jeffrey A. Miron & David N. Weil, 1987. "The Adjustment of Expectations to a Change in Regime: A Study of the Founding of the Federal Reserve," NBER Working Papers 2124, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 1998. "The new neoclassical synthesis and the role of monetary policy," Working Paper 98-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  10. Beveridge, Stephen & Nelson, Charles R., 1981. "A new approach to decomposition of economic time series into permanent and transitory components with particular attention to measurement of the `business cycle'," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(2), pages 151-174.
  11. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2006. "Why Has U.S. Inflation Become Harder to Forecast?," NBER Working Papers 12324, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Nelson, Charles R. & Plosser, Charles I., 1982. "Trends and random walks in macroeconmic time series : Some evidence and implications," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 139-162.
  13. Refet S. G├╝rkaynak & Brian Sack & Eric Swanson, 2005. "The Sensitivity of Long-Term Interest Rates to Economic News: Evidence and Implications for Macroeconomic Models," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 425-436, March.
  14. Andrew Atkeson & Lee E. Ohanian., 2001. "Are Phillips curves useful for forecasting inflation?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-11.
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