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A Comparison of Five Federal Reserve Chairmen: Was Greenspan the Best?

  • Ray Fair
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    This paper examines the performances of the past five Federal Reserve chairmen using optimal control techniques and a macroeconometric model. Each chairman is evaluated in two ways. The first way is comparing the actual performance of the economy under his term relative to what the performance would have been had he behaved optimally. Comparing chairmen only on the basis of the actual performance of the economy is not appropriate because it does not control for different exogenous-variable values and shocks that the Fed has no control over. This comparison is done for a wide range of loss functions. It does not assume that the chairman necessarily behaved by minimizing a loss function; it just compares his actual behavior to what he could have done had he minimized a particular loss function. The second way, on the other hand, assumes that each chairman minimized a loss function, and it chooses for each chairman which of the various loss functions tried comes closest to matching the actual values of the control variable to the optimal values. A summary evaluation of each chairman is presented in Section 6.

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    File URL: http://icfpub.som.yale.edu/publications/2590
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    Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number amz2590.

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    Date of creation: 01 Sep 2006
    Date of revision: 01 Aug 2007
    Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:amz2590
    Contact details of provider: Web page: http://icf.som.yale.edu/

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    1. George W. Evans & Garey Ramey, 2001. ""Adaptive Expectations, Underparameterization and the Lucas Critique," University of Oregon Economics Department Working Papers 2001-8, University of Oregon Economics Department, revised 01 Dec 2004.
    2. Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2004. "Choosing the Federal Reserve Chair: Lessons from History," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 18(1), pages 129-162, Winter.
    3. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2002. "Has the Business Cycle Changed and Why?," NBER Working Papers 9127, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Mark Bils & Peter J. Klenow, 2004. "Some Evidence on the Importance of Sticky Prices," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(5), pages 947-985, October.
    5. Richard Dennis, 2006. "The policy preferences of the US Federal Reserve," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 21(1), pages 55-77.
    6. Ray Fair, 2006. "Evaluating Inflation Targeting Using a Macroeconometric Model," Yale School of Management Working Papers amz2483, Yale School of Management, revised 01 Aug 2007.
    7. Marvin Goodfriend & Robert G. King, 1998. "The new neoclassical synthesis and the role of monetary policy," Working Paper 98-05, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
    8. Fair, Ray C., 2007. "Evaluating Inflation Targeting Using a Macroeconometric Model," Economics Discussion Papers 2007-14, Kiel Institute for the World Economy.
    9. Lucas, Robert Jr, 1976. "Econometric policy evaluation: A critique," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 19-46, January.
    10. Salemi, Michael K., 2006. "Econometric Policy Evaluation and Inverse Control," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 38(7), pages 1737-1764, October.
    11. Ray C. Fair, 2000. "Testing the NAIRU Model for the United States," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 82(1), pages 64-71, February.
    12. Fair, Ray C, 1978. "The Use of Optimal Control Techniques to Measure Economic Performance," International Economic Review, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania and Osaka University Institute of Social and Economic Research Association, vol. 19(2), pages 289-309, June.
    13. Ozlale, Umit, 2003. "Price stability vs. output stability: tales of federal reserve administrations," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 27(9), pages 1595-1610, July.
    14. Alan S. Blinder & Ricardo Reis, 2005. "Understanding the Greenspan standard," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Aug, pages 11-96.
    15. James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 2003. "Has the business cycle changed?," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 9-56.
    16. Olivier Blanchard & John Simon, 2001. "The Long and Large Decline in U.S. Output Volatility," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 32(1), pages 135-174.
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