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The Role of Interest Rates in Federal Reserve Policymaking

  • Benjamin M. Friedman
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    Most central banks, including the U.S. Federal Reserve System, implement their monetary policy by setting interest rates. This paper reviews the major changes that have taken place along the way from the Federal Reserve's interest rate-based policy structure of the 1960s to the interest rate-based structure in place today, and then goes on to consider three open questions that this way of conducting monetary policy presents: (1) whether there is a nominal anchor' problem, and if so whether explicit inflation targeting would solve it, (2) whether there is a role in this policymaking process for interest rates other than whatever particular rate the Federal Reserve chooses to set, or equivalently for equity prices, and (3) to what extent the electronic revolution now under way in banking threatens the efficacy of an interest rate-based monetary policy. The paper concludes by considering the implications of the rules-versus-discretion debate for the role of interest rates in monetary policymaking.

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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w8047.pdf
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    Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 8047.

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    Date of creation: Dec 2000
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    Publication status: published as Benjamin M. Friedman, 2000. "The role of interest rates in Federal Reserve policymaking," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, issue Oct, pages 43-66.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8047
    Note: ME
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    1. Svensson, Lars E.O., 1997. "Inflation Forecast Targeting: Implementing and Monitoring Inflation Targets," Seminar Papers 615, Stockholm University, Institute for International Economic Studies.
    2. Charles Goodhart, 2000. "Can Central Banking Survive the IT Revolution?," FMG Special Papers sp125, Financial Markets Group.
    3. Benjamin M. Friedman, 1999. "The Future of Monetary Policy: The Central Bank as an Army With Only a Signal Corps," NBER Working Papers 7420, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Wicksell, Knut, 1907. "The Influence of the Rate of Interest on Prices," History of Economic Thought Articles, McMaster University Archive for the History of Economic Thought, vol. 17, pages 213-220.
    5. Benjamin M. Friedman & Kenneth N. Kuttner, 1996. "A Price Target for U.S. Monetary Policy? Lessons from the Experience with Money Growth Targets," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 27(1), pages 77-146.
    6. William Poole, 1969. "Optimal choice of monetary policy instruments in a simple stochastic macro model," Special Studies Papers 2, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
    7. Bennett T. McCallum, 1982. "Price Level Determinacy with an Interest Rate Policy Rule and Rational Expectations," NBER Working Papers 0559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Friedman, Benjamin M, 1999. "The Future of Monetary Policy: The Central Bank as an Army with Only a Signal Corps?," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 2(3), pages 321-38, November.
    9. King, Mervyn, 1997. "Changes in UK monetary policy: Rules and discretion in practice," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 81-97, June.
    10. Sargent, Thomas J & Wallace, Neil, 1975. ""Rational" Expectations, the Optimal Monetary Instrument, and the Optimal Money Supply Rule," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 83(2), pages 241-54, April.
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