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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. Glenn D. Rudebusch & Lars E. O. Svensson, 1998. "Policy rules for inflation targeting," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 98-03, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  2. 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.
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  8. 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.
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  18. William Poole, 2003. "Economic growth and the real rate of interest," Speech 27, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
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  26. Kozicki, Sharon & Tinsley, P. A., 2001. "Shifting endpoints in the term structure of interest rates," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 613-652, June.
  27. Neiss, Katharine & Nelson, Edward, 2001. "The Real Interest rate Gap as an Inflation Indicator," CEPR Discussion Papers 2848, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  28. 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.
  29. 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.
  30. Kuttner, Kenneth N, 1994. "Estimating Potential Output as a Latent Variable," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 12(3), pages 361-68, July.
  31. Peter K. Clark, 1987. "The Cyclical Component of U. S. Economic Activity," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 102(4), pages 797-814.
  32. 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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