IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/21476.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Equilibrium Real Funds Rate: Past, Present and Future

Author

Listed:
  • James D. Hamilton
  • Ethan S. Harris
  • Jan Hatzius
  • Kenneth D. West

Abstract

We examine the behavior, determinants, and implications of the equilibrium level of the real federal funds rate, defined as the rate consistent with full employment and stable inflation in the medium term. We draw three main conclusions. First, the uncertainty around the equilibrium rate is large, and its relationship with trend GDP growth much more tenuous than widely believed. Our narrative and econometric analysis using cross-country data and going back to the 19th Century supports a wide range of plausible central estimates for the current level of the equilibrium rate, from a little over 0% to the pre-crisis consensus of 2%. Second, despite this uncertainty, we are skeptical of the “secular stagnation” view that the equilibrium rate will remain near zero for many years to come. The evidence for secular stagnation before the 2008 crisis is weak, and the disappointing post-2008 recovery is better explained by protracted but ultimately temporary headwinds from the housing supply overhang, household and bank deleveraging, and fiscal retrenchment. Once these headwinds had abated by early 2014, US growth did in fact accelerate to a pace well above potential. Third, the uncertainty around the equilibrium rate implies that a monetary policy rule with more inertia than implied by standard versions of the Taylor rule could be associated with smaller deviations of output and inflation from the Fed’s objectives. Our simulations using the Fed staff’s FRB/US model show that explicit recognition of this uncertainty results in a later but steeper normalization path for the funds rate compared with the median “dot” in the FOMC’s Summary of Economic Projections.

Suggested Citation

  • James D. Hamilton & Ethan S. Harris & Jan Hatzius & Kenneth D. West, 2015. "The Equilibrium Real Funds Rate: Past, Present and Future," NBER Working Papers 21476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21476
    Note: EFG ME
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w21476.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Introduction to "Monetary Policy Rules"," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 1-14 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2007. "Robust monetary policy with imperfect knowledge," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(5), pages 1406-1435, July.
    3. Kwiatkowski, Denis & Phillips, Peter C. B. & Schmidt, Peter & Shin, Yongcheol, 1992. "Testing the null hypothesis of stationarity against the alternative of a unit root : How sure are we that economic time series have a unit root?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 54(1-3), pages 159-178.
    4. Reinhart, Karmen & Rogoff, Kenneth, 2009. ""This time is different": panorama of eight centuries of financial crises," Economic Policy, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, vol. 1, pages 77-114, March.
    5. Garcia, Rene & Perron, Pierre, 1996. "An Analysis of the Real Interest Rate under Regime Shifts," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 78(1), pages 111-125, February.
    6. Bianca De Paoli & Pawel Zabczyk, 2013. "Cyclical Risk Aversion, Precautionary Saving, and Monetary Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 45(1), pages 1-36, February.
    7. Clarida, Richard & Gali, Jordi & Gertler, Mark, 2002. "A simple framework for international monetary policy analysis," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(5), pages 879-904, July.
    8. John B. Taylor, 1999. "A Historical Analysis of Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Chapters,in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 319-348 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    9. John Y. Campbell & John Cochrane, 1999. "Force of Habit: A Consumption-Based Explanation of Aggregate Stock Market Behavior," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(2), pages 205-251, April.
    10. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2009. "Varieties of Crises and Their Dates," Introductory Chapters,in: This Time Is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly Princeton University Press.
    11. Carmen M. Reinhart & Kenneth S. Rogoff, 2014. "Recovery from Financial Crises: Evidence from 100 Episodes," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 50-55, May.
    12. Clark, Todd E. & Kozicki, Sharon, 2005. "Estimating equilibrium real interest rates in real time," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 395-413, December.
    13. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust Monetary Policy Rules with Unknown Natural Rates," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(2), pages 63-146.
    14. Canzoneri, Matthew B. & Cumby, Robert E. & Diba, Behzad T., 2007. "Euler equations and money market interest rates: A challenge for monetary policy models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(7), pages 1863-1881, October.
    15. Romer, Christina D, 1989. "The Prewar Business Cycle Reconsidered: New Estimates of Gross National Product, 1869-1908," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 97(1), pages 1-37, February.
    16. Barsky, Robert B., 1987. "The Fisher hypothesis and the forecastability and persistence of inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 3-24, January.
    17. Cúrdia, Vasco & Ferrero, Andrea & Ng, Ging Cee & Tambalotti, Andrea, 2015. "Has U.S. monetary policy tracked the efficient interest rate?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 72-83.
    18. Donald W. K. Andrews, 2003. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point: A Corrigendum," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 71(1), pages 395-397, January.
    19. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2006. "Monetary Policy with Imperfect Knowledge," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 4(2-3), pages 366-375, 04-05.
    20. Andrews, Donald W K, 1993. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 61(4), pages 821-856, July.
    21. Lawrence J. Christiano & Martin Eichenbaum & Charles L. Evans, 2005. "Nominal Rigidities and the Dynamic Effects of a Shock to Monetary Policy," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 113(1), pages 1-45, February.
    22. Thomas Laubach & John C. Williams, 2003. "Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1063-1070, November.
    23. Ang, Andrew & Bekaert, Geert, 2002. "Regime Switches in Interest Rates," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(2), pages 163-182, April.
    24. Carmen M. Reinhart & M. Belen Sbrancia1, 2015. "The liquidation of government debt," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 30(82), pages 291-333.
    25. Weil, Philippe, 1989. "The equity premium puzzle and the risk-free rate puzzle," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 401-421, November.
    26. Richard Dennis, 2009. "Consumption Habits in a New Keynesian Business Cycle Model," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 41(5), pages 1015-1030, August.
    27. Ricardo J. Caballero, 2006. "On the Macroeconomics of Asset Shortages," NBER Working Papers 12753, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    28. White, Halbert, 1980. "A Heteroskedasticity-Consistent Covariance Matrix Estimator and a Direct Test for Heteroskedasticity," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(4), pages 817-838, May.
    29. Graham Elliott & Ulrich K. Muller, 2006. "Efficient Tests for General Persistent Time Variation in Regression Coefficients," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 73(4), pages 907-940.
    30. Robert Barsky & Alejandro Justiniano & Leonardo Melosi, 2014. "The Natural Rate of Interest and Its Usefulness for Monetary Policy," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(5), pages 37-43, May.
    31. John B. Taylor, 1999. "Monetary Policy Rules," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number tayl99-1, March.
    32. Lawrence H Summers, 2014. "U.S. Economic Prospects: Secular Stagnation, Hysteresis, and the Zero Lower Bound," Business Economics, Palgrave Macmillan;National Association for Business Economics, vol. 49(2), pages 65-73, April.
    33. Alejandro Justiniano & Giorgio E. Primiceri, 2010. "Measuring the equilibrium real interest rate," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q I, pages 14-27.
    34. Leduc, Sylvain & Rudebusch, Glenn D., 2014. "Does slower growth imply lower interest rates?," FRBSF Economic Letter, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
    35. Caporale, Tony & Grier, Kevin B, 2000. "Political Regime Change and the Real Interest Rate," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 32(3), pages 320-334, August.
    36. Jushan Bai & Pierre Perron, 2003. "Computation and analysis of multiple structural change models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 18(1), pages 1-22.
    37. Narayana R. Kocherlakota, 1996. "The Equity Premium: It's Still a Puzzle," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(1), pages 42-71, March.
    38. Robert J. Gordon, 2014. "The Demise of U.S. Economic Growth: Restatement, Rebuttal, and Reflections," NBER Working Papers 19895, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    39. Frank Smets & Raf Wouters, 2003. "An Estimated Dynamic Stochastic General Equilibrium Model of the Euro Area," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 1(5), pages 1123-1175, September.
    40. Rapach, David E & Wohar, Mark E, 2005. "Regime Changes in International Real Interest Rates: Are They a Monetary Phenomenon?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 887-906, October.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:21476. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.