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The Natural Rate Hypothesis: An idea past its sell-by date

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  • Roger E.A. Farmer

Abstract

Central banks throughout the world predict inflation with new-Keynesian models where, after a shock, the unemployment rate returns to its so called "natural rate'. That assumption is called the Natural Rate Hypothesis (NRH). This paper reviews a body of work, published over the last decade, which is critical of the NRH. I argue that the NRH does not hold in the data and I provide an alternative paradigm that explains why it does not hold. I replace the NRH with the assumption that the animal spirits of investors are a fundamental of the economy and I show how to operationalize that idea by constructing an empirical model that outperforms the new-Keynesian Phillips curve. I model animal spirits with a new fundamental that I call the belief function.

Suggested Citation

  • Roger E.A. Farmer, 2013. "The Natural Rate Hypothesis: An idea past its sell-by date," NBER Working Papers 19267, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19267
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Mark Gertler & Luca Sala & Antonella Trigari, 2008. "An Estimated Monetary DSGE Model with Unemployment and Staggered Nominal Wage Bargaining," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(8), pages 1713-1764, December.
    2. Milton Friedman, 1971. "A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie71-1.
    3. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Unemployment Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 353-357, May.
    4. Howitt, Peter & McAfee, R Preston, 1987. "Costly Search and Recruiting," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 28(1), pages 89-107, February.
    5. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-1370, November.
    6. Robert E. Hall & Paul R. Milgrom, 2008. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(4), pages 1653-1674, September.
    7. Diamond, Peter A, 1982. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 90(5), pages 881-894, October.
    8. Kerry A. Pearce & Kevin D. Hoover, 1995. "After the Revolution: Paul Samuelson and the Textbook Keynesian Model," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 27(5), pages 183-216, Supplemen.
    9. Roger E.A. Farmer & Carine Nourry & Alain Venditti, 2012. "The Inefficient Markets Hypothesis: Why Financial Markets Do Not Work Well in the Real World," NBER Working Papers 18647, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Mark Gertler & Antonella Trigari, 2009. "Unemployment Fluctuations with Staggered Nash Wage Bargaining," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 117(1), pages 38-86, February.
    11. Beyer, Andreas & Farmer, Roger E.A., 2007. "Natural rate doubts," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 797-825, March.
    12. Long, John B, Jr & Plosser, Charles I, 1983. "Real Business Cycles," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 91(1), pages 39-69, February.
    13. Franco Modigliani, 1977. "The monetarist controversy; or, should we forsake stabilization policies?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, issue Spr suppl, pages 27-46.
    14. Frank Smets & Rafael Wouters, 2007. "Shocks and Frictions in US Business Cycles: A Bayesian DSGE Approach," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 586-606, June.
    15. Merz, Monika, 1995. "Search in the labor market and the real business cycle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 36(2), pages 269-300, November.
    16. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
    17. Blanchard, Olivier J. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1987. "Hysteresis in unemployment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 288-295.
    18. Mortensen, Dale T, 1970. "Job Search, the Duration of Unemployment, and the Phillips Curve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 847-862, December.
    19. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-132, March.
    20. Robert E. Hall, 2005. "Employment Fluctuations with Equilibrium Wage Stickiness," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 50-65, March.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Miller, Marcus & Zhang, Lei, 2014. "Macro coordination: Forward Guidance as ‘cheap talk’?," CEPR Discussion Papers 9975, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Lafourcade, Pierre & Gerali, Andrea & Brůha, Jan & Bursian, Dirk & Buss, Ginters & Corbo, Vesna & Haavio, Markus & Håkanson, Christina & Hlédik, Tibor & Kátay, Gábor & Kulikov, Dmitry & Lozej, Matija , 2016. "Labour market modelling in the light of the financial crisis," Occasional Paper Series 175, European Central Bank.
    3. Rod Cross, 2014. "Unemployment: natural rate epicycles or hysteresis?," European Journal of Economics and Economic Policies: Intervention, Edward Elgar Publishing, vol. 11(2), pages 136-148, September.
    4. Riccardo Magnani, 2015. "The Solow Growth Model Revisited. Introducing Keynesian Involuntary Unemployment," Working Papers hal-01203393, HAL.
    5. Olivier J. Blanchard, 2017. "Should we Get rid of the Natural Rate Hypothesis?," NBER Working Papers 24057, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    6. Riccardo Magnani, 2015. "The Solow Growth Model Revisited. Introducing Keynesian Involuntary Unemployment," CEPN Working Papers hal-01203393, HAL.
    7. David Miles, 2014. "Monetary Policy and Forward Guidance in the UK," Manchester School, University of Manchester, vol. 82(S1), pages 44-59, September.
    8. repec:aea:jecper:v:32:y:2018:i:1:p:97-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:ksp:journ1:v:4:y:2017:i:1:p:79-87 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Olivier Blanchard, 2018. "Should We Reject the Natural Rate Hypothesis?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 32(1), pages 97-120, Winter.
    11. Speigner, Bradley, 2014. "Long-term unemployment and convexity in the Phillips curve," Bank of England working papers 519, Bank of England.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E0 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - General
    • E24 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Consumption, Saving, Production, Employment, and Investment - - - Employment; Unemployment; Wages; Intergenerational Income Distribution; Aggregate Human Capital; Aggregate Labor Productivity
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

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