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A pioneer of a new monetary policy? Sweden�s price level targeting of the 1930s revisited


  • Tobias Straumann
  • Ulrich Woitek


The paper re-examines Sweden�s price level targeting during the 1930s which is regarded as a precursor of today�s inflation targeting. According to conventional wisdom the Riksbank was the first central bank to adopt price level targeting as the guideline for its activities, although in practice giving priority to exchange rate stabilisation over price level stabilisation. On the basis of econometric analysis (Bayesian VAR) and the evaluation of new archival sources we come to a more skeptical conclusion. Our results suggest that it is hard to reconcile the Riksbank�s striving for a fixed exchange rate with the claim that it adopted price level targeting. This finding has implications for the prevailing view of the 1930s as a decade of great policy innovations.

Suggested Citation

  • Tobias Straumann & Ulrich Woitek, 2008. "A pioneer of a new monetary policy? Sweden�s price level targeting of the 1930s revisited," IEW - Working Papers 386, Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich.
  • Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:386

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Jacquier, Eric & Polson, Nicholas G & Rossi, Peter E, 2002. "Bayesian Analysis of Stochastic Volatility Models," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 20(1), pages 69-87, January.
    2. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2005. "Drift and Volatilities: Monetary Policies and Outcomes in the Post WWII U.S," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 8(2), pages 262-302, April.
    3. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2002. "Fear of Floating," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(2), pages 379-408.
    4. Berg, Claes & Jonung, Lars, 1999. "Pioneering price level targeting: The Swedish experience 1931-1937," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 525-551, June.
    5. Davidson, Russell & MacKinnon, James G., 1993. "Estimation and Inference in Econometrics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780195060119.
    6. Jonung, Lars, 1979. "Knut wicksell's norm of price stabilization and Swedish monetary policy in the 1930's," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 5(4), pages 459-496, October.
    7. Levy-Yeyati, Eduardo & Sturzenegger, Federico, 2005. "Classifying exchange rate regimes: Deeds vs. words," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1603-1635, August.
    8. repec:bla:restud:v:65:y:1998:i:3:p:361-93 is not listed on IDEAS
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    More about this item


    Sweden; monetary policy; price level targeting; Great Depression;

    JEL classification:

    • N14 - Economic History - - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations - - - Europe: 1913-
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System

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