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The Role of the Real Interest Rate in US Macroeconomic History

  • Ernst Juerg Weber

    (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia)

A negative real interest rate has guaranteed macroeconomic equilibrium during every national emergency in the United States since the early 19th century, except the Great Depression in the 1930s when deflation interfered with the interest rate mechanism. During the Great Depression, the interest rate mechanism failed because the zero bound on the nominal interest rate implies that the real interest rate cannot be negative if there is deflation. This points to a monetary explanation of the Great Depression, and it suggests that central banks should suspend monetary policy rules that target inflation if there is an adverse political or economic shock that creates consumer pessimism.

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File URL: http://www.biz.uwa.edu.au/home/research/discussionworking_papers/economics?f=154229
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Paper provided by The University of Western Australia, Department of Economics in its series Economics Discussion / Working Papers with number 07-01.

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Length: 48 pages
Date of creation: 2007
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:uwa:wpaper:07-01
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  2. Adam, Klaus & Billi, Roberto M., 2004. "Optimal monetary policy under commitment with a zero bound on nominal interest rates," Working Paper Series 0377, European Central Bank.
  3. Auerbach, Alan J. & Obstfeld, Maurice, 2012. "The Case for Open-Market Purchases in a Liquidity Trap," Center for International and Development Economics Research, Working Paper Series qt4tm5h0s3, Center for International and Development Economics Research, Institute for Business and Economic Research, UC Berkeley.
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  6. Jung, Taehun & Teranishi, Yuki & Watanabe, Tsutomu, 2005. "Optimal Monetary Policy at the Zero-Interest-Rate Bound," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 37(5), pages 813-35, October.
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  8. Harrison, Sharon G. & Weder, Mark, 2006. "Did sunspot forces cause the Great Depression?," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1327-1339, October.
  9. Iwata, Shigeru & Wu, Shu, 2006. "Estimating monetary policy effects when interest rates are close to zero," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 53(7), pages 1395-1408, October.
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  11. Harold L. Cole & Lee E. Ohanian, 1999. "The Great Depression in the United States from a neoclassical perspective," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-24.
  12. Edward C. Prescott, 2006. "Nobel Lecture: The Transformation of Macroeconomic Policy and Research," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 203-235, April.
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