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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.

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Paper provided by Institute for Empirical Research in Economics - University of Zurich in its series IEW - Working Papers with number 386.

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Date of creation: Aug 2008
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Handle: RePEc:zur:iewwpx:386
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  1. Guillermo A. Calvo & Carmen M. Reinhart, 2000. "Fear of Floating," NBER Working Papers 7993, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. 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.
  3. Timothy Cogley & Thomas J. Sargent, 2003. "Drifts and volatilities: monetary policies and outcomes in the post WWII U.S," Working Paper 2003-25, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Levy-Yeyati, Eduardo & Sturzenegger, Federico, 2005. "Classifying exchange rate regimes: Deeds vs. words," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1603-1635, August.
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