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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
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:zbw:bubdp1:2298
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  1. Hodrick, Robert J & Prescott, Edward C, 1997. "Postwar U.S. Business Cycles: An Empirical Investigation," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 29(1), pages 1-16, February.
  2. Neiss, Katharine S. & Nelson, Edward, 2003. "The Real-Interest-Rate Gap As An Inflation Indicator," Macroeconomic Dynamics, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(02), pages 239-262, April.
  3. Trehan, Bharat & Wu, Tao, 2007. "Time-varying equilibrium real rates and monetary policy analysis," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 31(5), pages 1584-1609, May.
  4. 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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  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.
  9. Sharon Kozicki & Peter A. Tinsley, 1996. "Moving endpoints and the internal consistency of agents' ex ante forecasts," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 96-47, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  10. Tom Stark and Dean Croushore, 2001. "Forecasting with a Real-Time Data Set for Macroeconomists," Computing in Economics and Finance 2001 258, Society for Computational Economics.
  11. Kamada, Koichiro, 2004. "Real-Time Estimation of the Output Gap in Japan and its Usefulness for Inflation Forecasting and Policymaking," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,14, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  12. 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.
  13. Kozicki, Sharon & Tinsley, P. A., 2003. "Permanent and transitory policy shocks in an empirical macro model with asymmetric information," CFS Working Paper Series 2003/41, Center for Financial Studies (CFS).
  14. 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.
  15. Dean Croushore & Tom Stark, 1999. "A real-time data set for macroeconomists," Working Papers 99-4, Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia.
  16. Sharon Kozicki, 2004. "How do data revisions affect the evaluation and conduct of monetary policy?," Economic Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, issue Q I, pages 5-38.
  17. Michal Brzoza-Brzezina, 2003. "Estimating the Natural Rate of Interest: A SVAR Approach," Macroeconomics 0301008, EconWPA.
  18. 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.
  19. Sharon Kozicki & Peter A. Tinsley, 1997. "Shifting endpoints in the term structure of interest rates," Research Working Paper 97-08, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
  20. Andrew Atkeson & Lee E. Ohanian, 2001. "Are Phillips curves useful for forecasting inflation?," Quarterly Review, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Win, pages 2-11.
  21. Cayen, Jean-Philippe & van Norden, Simon, 2004. "The reliability of Canadian output gap estimates," Discussion Paper Series 1: Economic Studies 2004,29, Deutsche Bundesbank, Research Centre.
  22. 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.
  23. repec:cup:macdyn:v:7:y:2003:i:2:p:239-62 is not listed on IDEAS
  24. Athanasios Orphanides & John C. Williams, 2002. "Robust monetary policy rules with unknown natural rates," Working Paper Series 2003-01, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  25. 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.
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  27. Antulio N. Bomfim, 2001. "Measuring equilibrium real interest rates: what can we learn from yields on indexed bonds?," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2001-53, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
  28. Gerlach, Stefan & Smets, Frank, 1999. "Output gaps and monetary policy in the EMU area1," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 43(4-6), pages 801-812, April.
  29. Frank Smets, 2002. "Output gap uncertainty: Does it matter for the Taylor rule?," Empirical Economics, Springer, vol. 27(1), pages 113-129.
  30. William Poole, 2003. "Economic growth and the real rate of interest," Speech 27, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  31. 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.
  32. Watson, Mark W., 1986. "Univariate detrending methods with stochastic trends," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 49-75, July.
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