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Does Monetary Policy Matter? A New Test in the Spirit of Friedman and Schwartz

  • Christina D. Romer and David H. Romer.

This paper uses the historical record to isolate episodes in which there were large monetary disturbances not caused by output fluctuations. It then tests whether these monetary changes have important real effects. The central part of the paper is a study of postwar U.S. monetary history. We identify six episodes in which the Federal Reserve in effect decided to attempt to create a recession to reduce inflation. We find that a shift to anti-inflationary policy led, on average, to a rise in the unemployment rate of two percentage points, and that this effect is highly statistically significant and robust to a variety of changes in specification. We reach three other major conclusions. First, the real effects of these monetary disturbances are highly persistent. Second, the six shocks that we identify account for a considerable fraction of postwar economic fluctuations. And third, evidence from the interwar era also suggests that monetary disturbances have large real effects.

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Paper provided by University of California at Berkeley in its series Economics Working Papers with number 89-107.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 1989
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:ucb:calbwp:89-107
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  1. J. Bradford DeLong & Lawrence H. Summers, 1988. "How Does Macroeconomic Policy Affect Output?," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 19(2), pages 433-494.
  2. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1986. "Are Output Fluctuations Transitory?," NBER Working Papers 1916, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. David F. Hendry & Neil R. Ericsson, 1985. "Assertion without empirical basis : an econometric appraisal of monetary trends in ... the United Kingdom, by Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz," International Finance Discussion Papers 270, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  4. Christina D. Romer, 1990. "The Great Crash and the Onset of the Great Depression," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 105(3), pages 597-624.
  5. Romer, Christina D., 1988. "World War I and the postwar depression A reinterpretation based on alternative estimates of GNP," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(1), pages 91-115, July.
  6. Robert J. Gordon & James A. Wilcox, 1978. "Monetarist Interpretations of the Great Depression: An Evaluation and Critique," NBER Working Papers 0300, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Blanchard, Olivier Jean & Quah, Danny, 1989. "The Dynamic Effects of Aggregate Demand and Supply Disturbances," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 79(4), pages 655-73, September.
  8. Ben S. Bernanke, 1983. "Non-Monetary Effects of the Financial Crisis in the Propagation of the Great Depression," NBER Working Papers 1054, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. John Y. Campbell & N. Gregory Mankiw, 1987. "Are Output Fluctuations Transitory?," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 857-880.
  10. Michael D. Bordo, 1988. "The Contribution of a Monetary History of the United States: 1867 to 1960 To Monetary History," NBER Working Papers 2549, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  11. Cochrane, John H, 1988. "How Big Is the Random Walk in GNP?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 96(5), pages 893-920, October.
  12. Hamilton, James D., 1987. "Monetary factors in the great depression," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 19(2), pages 145-169, March.
  13. repec:fth:harver:1418 is not listed on IDEAS
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