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Understanding Real Interest Rates

  • Frederic S. Mishkin

This paper outlines an approach to measuring real interest rates and testing hypotheses on their behavior. It then describes what we know about real interest rates in the aggregate economy and provides estimates of real interest rates for the agricultural sector. The evidence presented in this paper indicates that real interest rates for the agricultural economy have been extremely high in the l98Ds and that their behavior seems to be linked to that found for real rates in the aggregate economy. What has been the source of these high real rates? The answer seems to be that it was a result of a concerted effort by the monetary authorities to disinflate the economy. However, the brunt of the Fed's disinflationary policy has fallen more heavily on the farm sector which has had to face far higher reel rates than the rest of the economy. Although breaking the back of inflation was certainly a worthy goal for the Fed, farmers have had to pay a heavy price. They have had to suffer for the sins of an economy that was excessively inflationary, which then had to be brought back into line with disinflationary policy.

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File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w2691.pdf
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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 2691.

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Date of creation: Aug 1988
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Vol. 70, No. 5, pp. 1064-1075,(December 1988).
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:2691
Note: EFG ME
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. John Huizinga & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1984. "Inflation and Real Interest Rates on Assets with Different Risk Characteristics," NBER Working Papers 1333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Evans, Paul, 1985. "Do Large Deficits Produce High Interest Rates?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 75(1), pages 68-87, March.
  3. Sims, Christopher A, 1980. "Macroeconomics and Reality," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 1-48, January.
  4. Frederic S. Mishkin, 1984. "The Real Interest Rate: A Multi-Country Empirical Study," Canadian Journal of Economics, Canadian Economics Association, vol. 17(2), pages 283-311, May.
  5. Nelson, Charles R & Schwert, G William, 1977. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation: On Testing the Hypothesis That the Real Rate of Interest is Constant," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 67(3), pages 478-86, June.
  6. Robert E. Cumby & Frederic S. Mishkin, 1984. "The International Linkage of Real Interest Rates: The European - U.S. Connection," NBER Working Papers 1423, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Fama, Eugene F, 1975. "Short-Term Interest Rates as Predictors of Inflation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 65(3), pages 269-82, June.
  8. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
  9. Lawrence H. Summers, 1982. "The Nonadjustment of Nominal Interest Rates: A Study of the Fisher Effect," NBER Working Papers 0836, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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