IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/9274.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

The Evolution of Economic Understanding and Postwar Stabilization Policy

Author

Listed:
  • Christina D. Romer
  • David H. Romer

Abstract

There have been large changes in the conduct of aggregate demand policy in the United States over the past fifty years. This paper shows that these changes in policy have resulted largely from changes in policymakers' beliefs about the functioning of the economy and the effects of policy. We document the changes in beliefs using contemporaneous discussions of the economy and policy by monetary and fiscal policymakers and, for the period since the late 1960s, using the Federal Reserve's internal forecasts. We find that policymakers' understanding of the economy has not exhibited steady improvement. Instead, the evidence reveals an evolution from a fairly crude but basically sound worldview in the 1950s, to a more sophisticated but deeply flawed model in the 1960s, to uncertainty and fluctuating beliefs in the 1970s, and finally to the modern worldview of the 1980s and 1990s. We establish a link between policymakers' beliefs and aggregate demand policy by examining narrative evidence on the motivation for key policy choices. We also compare monetary policymakers' choices with the implications of a modern estimated policy rule and show that the main differences are consistent with the changes in beliefs that we observe.

Suggested Citation

  • Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2002. "The Evolution of Economic Understanding and Postwar Stabilization Policy," NBER Working Papers 9274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9274
    Note: DAE EFG ME
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w9274.pdf
    Download Restriction: no
    ---><---

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Richard Clarida & Jordi Galí & Mark Gertler, 2000. "Monetary Policy Rules and Macroeconomic Stability: Evidence and Some Theory," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 115(1), pages 147-180.
    2. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "The quest for prosperity without inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 633-663, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Mishkin, Frederic S., 1981. "The real interest rate: An empirical investigation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 151-200, January.
    5. Rudebusch, Glenn D., 2002. "Term structure evidence on interest rate smoothing and monetary policy inertia," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1161-1187, September.
    6. Taylor, John B., 1993. "Discretion versus policy rules in practice," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 39(1), pages 195-214, December.
    7. Romer, Christina D. & Romer, David H., 1994. "Monetary policy matters," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 75-88, August.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Most related items

    These are the items that most often cite the same works as this one and are cited by the same works as this one.
    1. Ayşegül Ladin SÜMER, 2020. "Optimal Taylor rule in the new era central banking perspective," Theoretical and Applied Economics, Asociatia Generala a Economistilor din Romania - AGER, vol. 0(1(622), S), pages 159-170, Spring.
    2. Pär Österholm, 2005. "The Taylor Rule: A Spurious Regression?," Bulletin of Economic Research, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 57(3), pages 217-247, July.
    3. Mehra, Yash P., 2002. "Level and growth policy rules and actual Fed policy since 1979," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 54(6), pages 575-594.
    4. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2002. "Assessing Nominal Income Rules for Monetary Policy with Model and Data Uncertainty," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(479), pages 402-432, April.
    5. Andreas Schabert, 2005. "Money Supply and the Implementation of Interest Rate Targets," Tinbergen Institute Discussion Papers 05-059/2, Tinbergen Institute.
    6. Owen F. Humpage & Sanchita Mukherjee, 2013. "Even keel and the Great Inflation," Working Papers (Old Series) 1315, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland.
    7. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Historical monetary policy analysis and the Taylor rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 983-1022, July.
    8. GlennD. Rudebusch & Tao Wu, 2008. "A Macro-Finance Model of the Term Structure, Monetary Policy and the Economy," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 118(530), pages 906-926, July.
    9. Hendrickson, Joshua R., 2012. "An overhaul of Federal Reserve doctrine: Nominal income and the Great Moderation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 304-317.
    10. Michael Woodford, 2012. "Forecast Targeting as a Monetary Policy Strategy - Policy Rules in Practice," Book Chapters, in: Evan F. Koenig & Robert Leeson & George A. Kahn (ed.), The Taylor Rule and the Transformation of Monetary Policy, chapter 9, Hoover Institution, Stanford University.
    11. Galí, Jordi, 2002. "New Perspectives on Monetary Policy, Inflation and the Business Cycle," CEPR Discussion Papers 3210, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    12. 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.
    13. Nikolsko-Rzhevskyy, Alex & Papell, David H., 2012. "Taylor rules and the Great Inflation," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 34(4), pages 903-918.
    14. Carriero, Andrea & Favero, Carlo A. & Kaminska, Iryna, 2006. "Financial factors, macroeconomic information and the Expectations Theory of the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 131(1-2), pages 339-358.
    15. Frederic S. Mishkin, 2007. "Will Monetary Policy Become More of a Science?," NBER Working Papers 13566, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    16. Travaglini, Guido, 2007. "The U.S. Dynamic Taylor Rule With Multiple Breaks, 1984-2001," MPRA Paper 3419, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised 15 Jun 2007.
    17. Julio Carrillo & Patrick Fève & Julien Matheron, 2007. "Monetary Policy Inertia or Persistent Shocks: A DSGE Analysis," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 3(2), pages 1-38, June.
    18. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "The quest for prosperity without inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 633-663, April.
    19. Athanasios Orphanides & Simon van Norden, 2002. "The Unreliability of Output-Gap Estimates in Real Time," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 84(4), pages 569-583, November.
    20. Kozicki, Sharon & Tinsley, P.A., 2009. "Perhaps the 1970s FOMC did what it said it did," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 56(6), pages 842-855, September.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E60 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook - - - General
    • E50 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - General

    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:9274. 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: https://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 bibliographic 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.

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

    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.