December 2001

Monetary Policy Rules, Macroeconomic Stability and Inflation: A View from the Trenches

Athanasios Orphanides

Abstract:

I estimate a forward-looking monetary policy reaction function for the Federal Reserve for the periods before and after Paul Volcker's appointment as Chairman in 1979, using information that was available to the FOMC in real time from 1966 to 1995. The results suggest broad similarities in policy and point to a forward looking approach to policy consistent with a strong reaction to inflation forecasts during both periods. This contradicts the hypothesis, based on analysis with ex post constructed data, that the instability of the Great Inflation was the result of weak FOMC policy responses to expected inflation. A difference is that prior to Volcker's appointment, policy was too activist in reacting to perceived output gaps that retrospectively proved overambitious. Drawing on contemporaneous accounts of FOMC policy, I discuss the implications of the findings for alternative explanations of the Great Inflation and the improvement in macroeconomic stability since then.

Full paper (652 KB Postscript)

Keywords: Monetary policy rules, real-time data, Greenbook forecasts, stagflation

PDF: Full Paper

Disclaimer: The economic research that is linked from this page represents the views of the authors and does not indicate concurrence either by other members of the Board's staff or by the Board of Governors. The economic research and their conclusions are often preliminary and are circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment.

The Board values having a staff that conducts research on a wide range of economic topics and that explores a diverse array of perspectives on those topics. The resulting conversations in academia, the economic policy community, and the broader public are important to sharpening our collective thinking.

Back to Top
Last Update: January 29, 2021