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Federal Reserve Policy: Cause and Effect

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  • Matthew D. Shapiro

Abstract

Romer and Romer (1989,1990,1992) identify dates where the Federal Reserve appears to have shifted its policy towards reducing the rate of inflation. This paper examines the economic context that drives this decision. It finds that the Fed appears to weigh the outlook for unemployment as well as that for inflation in making its decision about disinflation. Previous work has not examined the course of inflation over the disinflations. This paper finds responses of the inflation rate to the "disinflations" only in a specification where the effects of the policy are presumed to be permanent Moreover, the Volcker disinflation is found to be the only "disinflation" to reduce inflation permanently. The disinflation after the 1973 OPEC price increases was effective, but only temporarily. Other disinflations had negligible impacts on the rate of inflation over all horizons. Variables measuring the expected present discounted values of unemployment and inflation are constructed. These variables are used in a discrete-choice model to explain the Fed's decision to disinflate. This model does a fairly good job of explaining the Fed's decisions. Both inflation and unemployment drive the Fed's decision. For some episodes, notably in the 1970's, inflation is the main variable driving the decision. In the 1969 and 1988 episodes, unemployment matters more.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew D. Shapiro, 1993. "Federal Reserve Policy: Cause and Effect," NBER Working Papers 4342, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:4342
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Dickey, David A & Fuller, Wayne A, 1981. "Likelihood Ratio Statistics for Autoregressive Time Series with a Unit Root," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 49(4), pages 1057-1072, June.
    2. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 1989. "Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz," NBER Chapters,in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 1989, Volume 4, pages 121-184 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    Cited by:

    1. Huh, Chan G. & Lansing, Kevin J., 2000. "Expectations, credibility, and disinflation in a small macroeconomic model," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 51-86.
    2. Goodfriend, Marvin & King, Robert G., 2005. "The incredible Volcker disinflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 52(5), pages 981-1015, July.
    3. Ramey, V.A., 2016. "Macroeconomic Shocks and Their Propagation," Handbook of Macroeconomics, Elsevier.
    4. Leeper, Eric M., 1997. "Narrative and VAR approaches to monetary policy: Common identification problems," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 641-657, December.
    5. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1997. "Identification and the narrative approach: A reply to Leeper," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 40(3), pages 659-665, December.
    6. Claus Brand & Nuno Cassola, 2004. "A money demand system for euro area M3," Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 36(8), pages 817-838.
    7. Robert B. Barsky & Christopher L. House & Miles S. Kimball, 2007. "Sticky-Price Models and Durable Goods," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(3), pages 984-998, June.
    8. Ramey, Valerie A. & Shapiro, Matthew D., 1998. "Costly capital reallocation and the effects of government spending," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 145-194, June.
    9. Robert Barsky & Christopher L. House & Miles Kimball, 2003. "Do Flexible Durable Goods Prices Undermine Sticky Price Models?," NBER Working Papers 9832, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Anton Brender & Florence Pisani, 1995. "L'« atterrissage en douceur » de l'économie américaine : vers un nouveau mode de conduite de la politique monétaire ?," Revue de l'OFCE, Programme National Persée, vol. 55(1), pages 171-209.
    11. Boschen, John F. & Weise, Charles L., 2001. "The Ex Ante Credibility of Disinflation Policy and the Cost of Reducing Inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 23(3), pages 323-347, July.
    12. Rodrigo Valdés, 1998. "Efectos de la Política Monetaria en Chile," Latin American Journal of Economics-formerly Cuadernos de Economía, Instituto de Economía. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile., vol. 35(104), pages 97-125.
    13. Brand, Claus & Cassola, Nuno, 2000. "A money demand system for euro area M3," Working Paper Series 0039, European Central Bank.
    14. Charles A. Fleischman, 1999. "The causes of business cycles and the cyclicality of real wages," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 1999-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    15. Chan G. Huh & Kevin J. Lansing, 1998. "Federal Reserve credibility and inflation scares," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 3-16.
    16. Christina D. Romer, 1999. "Changes in Business Cycles: Evidence and Explanations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 23-44, Spring.
    17. Collard, Fabrice & Fève, Patrick & Matheron, Julien, 2007. "The Dynamic Effects of Disinflation Policies," IDEI Working Papers 426, Institut d'Économie Industrielle (IDEI), Toulouse.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies

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