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Estimating equilibrium real interest rates in real-time

  • Clark, Todd E.
  • Kozicki, Sharon

We use a range of simple models and 22 years of real-time data vintages for the U.S. to assess the difficulties of estimating the equilibrium real interest rate in real time. Model specifications differ according to whether the time-varying equilibrium real rate is linked to trend growth, and whether potential output and growth are defined by the CBO?s estimates or treated as unobserved variables. Our results reveal a high degree of specification uncertainty, an important one-sided filtering problem, and considerable imprecision due to data uncertainty. Also, the link between trend growth and the equilibrium real rate is shown to be quite weak. Overall, we conclude that statistical estimates of the equilibrium real rate will be difficult to use reliably in practical policy applications.

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Paper provided by Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre in its series Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies with number 2004,32.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:2298
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  1. Katharine S. Neiss & Edward Nelson, 2001. "The real interest rate gap as an inflation indicator," Bank of England working papers 130, Bank of England.
  2. Glenn D. Rudebusch, 1999. "Is the Fed too timid? Monetary policy in an uncertain world," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 99-05, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  3. Sharon Kozicki & P.A. Tinsley, 1997. "Shifting endpoints in the term structure of interest rates," Research Working Paper 97-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  4. 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.
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  7. Kozicki, Sharon & Tinsley, P.A., 2005. "Permanent and transitory policy shocks in an empirical macro model with asymmetric information," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 29(11), pages 1985-2015, November.
  8. Rünstler, Gerhard, 2002. "The information content of real-time output gap estimates, an application to the euro area," Working Paper Series 0182, European Central Bank.
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  10. Clark, Todd E. & Kozicki, Sharon, 2004. "Estimating equilibrium real interest rates in real-time," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,32, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
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  12. William Poole, 2003. "Economic growth and the real rate of interest," Speech 27, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  13. Donald W.K. Andrews, 1990. "Tests for Parameter Instability and Structural Change with Unknown Change Point," Cowles Foundation Discussion Papers 943, Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics, Yale University.
  14. Kamada, Koichiro, 2005. "Real-time estimation of the output gap in Japan and its usefulness for inflation forecasting and policymaking," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 16(3), pages 309-332, December.
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  25. Christophe Planas & Alessandro Rossi, 2004. "Can inflation data improve the real-time reliability of output gap estimates?," Journal of Applied Econometrics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 19(1), pages 121-133.
  26. Thomas Laubach & John C. Williams, 2003. "Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 85(4), pages 1063-1070, November.
  27. 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.
  28. Clark, Peter K, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U.S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814, November.
  29. Bomfim, Antulio N, 1997. "The Equilibrium Fed Funds Rate and the Indicator Properties of Term-Structure Spreads," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 35(4), pages 830-46, October.
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