IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/sce/scecf1/35.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest

Author

Listed:
  • Thomas Laubach and John C. Williams

Abstract

The natural rate of interest -- the real interest rate consistent with output equaling potential -- plays an important role in both economic forecasting and monetary policy. Much of the literature has assumed that the natural rate of interest is constant. For example, the Taylor rule includes a fixed value of 2 percent. Economic theory, however, suggests that highly persistent shifts in aggregate demand or supply, such as the fiscal expansion of the 1980s and the productivity acceleration of the late 1990s, should cause the natural rate of interest to vary over time. Because neither potential output nor the natural rate of interest is directly observed, we exploit the relationship between these variables suggested by theory and jointly estimate them using the Kalman filter. We find substantial variation in the natural rate of interest over the past four decades in the United States, confirming the view that structural changes in the U.S. economy have had a significant effect on the natural rate of interest. For example, our estimates peak during the mid-sixties and the late nineties, periods of high rates of potential output growth, and decline during the productivity slowdown of the 1970s. Moreover, the fiscal expansion of the 1980s is associated with a high natural rate of interest. Our estimate of the natural rate as of the end of 2000 is 4 percent, well above estimates based on the hypothesis of a constant natural rate.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas Laubach and John C. Williams, 2001. "Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 35, Society for Computational Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:sce:scecf1:35
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    To our knowledge, this item is not available for download. To find whether it is available, there are three options:
    1. Check below whether another version of this item is available online.
    2. Check on the provider's web page whether it is in fact available.
    3. Perform a search for a similarly titled item that would be available.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Coenen Günter & Orphanides Athanasios & Wieland Volker, 2004. "Price Stability and Monetary Policy Effectiveness when Nominal Interest Rates are Bounded at Zero," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 4(1), pages 1-25, February.
    2. Robert M. Solow, 1956. "A Contribution to the Theory of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 70(1), pages 65-94.
    3. Andrew T.. Levin & Volker Wieland & John Williams, 1999. "Robustness of Simple Monetary Policy Rules under Model Uncertainty," NBER Chapters, in: Monetary Policy Rules, pages 263-318, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Roberts John M., 2001. "Estimates of the Productivity Trend Using Time-Varying Parameter Techniques," The B.E. Journal of Macroeconomics, De Gruyter, vol. 1(1), pages 1-32, July.
    5. Thomas Laubach, 2001. "Measuring The NAIRU: Evidence From Seven Economies," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 218-231, May.
    6. Neiss, Katharine S. & Nelson, Edward, 2003. "The Real-Interest-Rate Gap As An Inflation Indicator," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(2), pages 239-262, April.
    7. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2001. "Is The Fed Too Timid? Monetary Policy In An Uncertain World," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 83(2), pages 203-217, May.
    8. Granger, C. W. J. & Newbold, P., 1974. "Spurious regressions in econometrics," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 2(2), pages 111-120, July.
    9. Rotemberg, Julio J & Woodford, Michael, 1996. "Real-Business-Cycle Models and the Forecastable Movements in Output, Hours, and Consumption," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(1), pages 71-89, March.
    10. Peter Isard & Douglas Laxton & Ann-Charlotte Eliasson, 1999. "Simple Monetary Policy Rules Under Model Uncertainty," International Tax and Public Finance, Springer;International Institute of Public Finance, vol. 6(4), pages 537-577, November.
    11. Kozicki, Sharon & Tinsley, P. A., 2001. "Shifting endpoints in the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 613-652, June.
    12. Kuttner, Kenneth N, 1994. "Estimating Potential Output as a Latent Variable," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 12(3), pages 361-368, July.
    13. Robert J. Gordon, 1998. "Foundations of the Goldilocks Economy: Supply Shocks and the Time-Varying NAIRU," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 29(2), pages 297-346.
    14. Andrews, Donald W K & Ploberger, Werner, 1994. "Optimal Tests When a Nuisance Parameter Is Present Only under the Alternative," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 62(6), pages 1383-1414, November.
    15. David L. Reifschneider & John C. Williams, 2000. "Three lessons for monetary policy in a low-inflation era," Conference Series ; [Proceedings], Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, pages 936-978.
    16. Watson, Mark W., 1986. "Univariate detrending methods with stochastic trends," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 49-75, July.
    17. Peter K. Clark, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U. S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814.
    18. Fuhrer, Jeffrey C, 1997. "Inflation/Output Variance Trade-Offs and Optimal Monetary Policy," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(2), pages 214-234, May.
    19. Hamilton, James D., 1986. "A standard error for the estimated state vector of a state-space model," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 387-397, December.
    20. 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.
    21. Flint Brayton & Eileen Mauskopf & David L. Reifschneider & Peter A. Tinsley & John Williams, 1997. "The role of expectations in the FRB/US macroeconomic model," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), vol. 83(Apr), pages 227-245, April.
    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. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. John C. Williams, 2006. "Robust estimation and monetary policy with unobserved structural change," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, pages 1-16.
    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. Levin, Andrew T. & Williams, John C., 2003. "Robust monetary policy with competing reference models," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 945-975, July.
    6. Arabinda Basistha & Richard Startz, 2004. "Measuring the NAIRU with Reduced Uncertainty: A Multiple Indicator-Common Component Approach," Working Papers UWEC-2004-22, University of Washington, Department of Economics.
    7. 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.
    8. 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.
    9. Cayen, Jean-Philippe & van Norden, Simon, 2005. "The reliability of Canadian output-gap estimates," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 373-393, December.
    10. Orphanides, Athanasios & Porter, Richard D. & Reifschneider, David & Tetlow, Robert & Finan, Frederico, 2000. "Errors in the measurement of the output gap and the design of monetary policy," Journal of Economics and Business, Elsevier, vol. 52(1-2), pages 117-141.
    11. Holston, Kathryn & Laubach, Thomas & Williams, John C., 2017. "Measuring the natural rate of interest: International trends and determinants," Journal of International Economics, Elsevier, vol. 108(S1), pages 59-75.
    12. Basistha, Arabinda & Nelson, Charles R., 2007. "New measures of the output gap based on the forward-looking new Keynesian Phillips curve," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 54(2), pages 498-511, March.
    13. Orphanides, Athanasios & Williams, John C., 2005. "The decline of activist stabilization policy: Natural rate misperceptions, learning, and expectations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1927-1950, November.
    14. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Historical monetary policy analysis and the Taylor rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 983-1022, July.
    15. Arabinda Basistha, 2009. "Hours per capita and productivity: evidence from correlated unobserved components models," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 24(1), pages 187-206.
    16. Éric Jondeau & Hervé Le Bihan, 2002. "Evaluating Monetary Policy Rules in Estimated Forward-Looking Models: A Comparison of US and German Monetary Policies," Annals of Economics and Statistics, GENES, issue 67-68, pages 357-388.
    17. Andrew T. Levin & Alexei Onatski & John Williams & Noah M. Williams, 2006. "Monetary Policy Under Uncertainty in Micro-Founded Macroeconometric Models," NBER Chapters, in: NBER Macroeconomics Annual 2005, Volume 20, pages 229-312, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Nicholas Apergis & Stephen M. Miller & Alexandros Panethimitakis & Athanassios Vamvakidis, 2005. "Inflation Targeting and Output Growth: Evidence from Aggregate European Data," Working papers 2005-06, University of Connecticut, Department of Economics.
    19. Taylor, John B. & Williams, John C., 2010. "Simple and Robust Rules for Monetary Policy," Handbook of Monetary Economics, in: Benjamin M. Friedman & Michael Woodford (ed.), Handbook of Monetary Economics, edition 1, volume 3, chapter 15, pages 829-859, Elsevier.
    20. Rodríguez, Gabriel, 2010. "Using A Forward-Looking Phillips Curve to Estimate the Output Gap in Peru," Review of Applied Economics, Lincoln University, Department of Financial and Business Systems, vol. 6(1-2), pages 1-13, April.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    monetary policy; equilibrium real interest rate; fiscal policy;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • E31 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
    • E32 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Prices, Business Fluctuations, and Cycles - - - Business Fluctuations; Cycles
    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy

    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:sce:scecf1:35. 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: (Christopher F. Baum). General contact details of provider: https://edirc.repec.org/data/sceeeea.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.