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

  • Roger E.A. Farmer

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.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 19267.

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Date of creation: Aug 2013
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Publication status: published as Farmer, Roger, 2013. "The Natural Rate Hypothesis: an idea past its sell-by date," Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, Bank of England, vol. 53(3), pages 244-256.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:19267
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  1. Mark Gertler & Antonella Trigari, 2006. "Unemployment Fluctuations with Staggered Nash Wage Bargaining," Computing in Economics and Finance 2006 525, Society for Computational Economics.
  2. Blanchard, Olivier J. & Summers, Lawrence H., 1987. "Hysteresis in unemployment," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 31(1-2), pages 288-295.
  3. Robert E. Hall & Paul R. Milgrom, 2007. "The Limited Influence of Unemployment on the Wage Bargain," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000135, UCLA Department of Economics.
  4. Farmer, Roger E A & Nourry, Carine & Venditti, Alain, 2013. "The Inefficient Markets Hypothesis: Why Financial Markets Do Not Work Well in the Real World," CEPR Discussion Papers 9283, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Beyer, Andreas & Farmer, Roger E.A., 2007. "Natural rate doubts," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(3), pages 797-825, March.
  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. Friedman, Milton, 1970. "A Theoretical Framework for Monetary Analysis," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 78(2), pages 193-238, March-Apr.
  10. 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.
  11. Smets, Frank & Wouters, Rafael, 2007. "Shocks and Frictions in US Business Cycles: A Bayesian DSGE Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 6112, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  12. Lucas, Robert E, Jr, 1978. "Unemployment Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 68(2), pages 353-57, May.
  13. 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.
  14. Kydland, Finn E & Prescott, Edward C, 1982. "Time to Build and Aggregate Fluctuations," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 50(6), pages 1345-70, November.
  15. 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.
  16. Lucas, Robert Jr., 1972. "Expectations and the neutrality of money," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 103-124, April.
  17. P. Diamond, 1980. "Aggregate Demand Management in Search Equilibrium," Working papers 268, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  18. Andolfatto, David, 1996. "Business Cycles and Labor-Market Search," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 112-32, March.
  19. Mortensen, Dale T, 1970. "Job Search, the Duration of Unemployment, and the Phillips Curve," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 60(5), pages 847-62, December.
  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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