November 2012 (Revised February 2017)

The Empirical Implications of the Interest-Rate Lower Bound

Christopher Gust, Edward Herbst, David Lopez-Salido, and Matthew E. Smith


Using Bayesian methods, we estimate a nonlinear DSGE model in which the interest-rate lower bound is occasionally binding. We quantify the size and nature of disturbances that pushed the U.S. economy to the lower bound in late 2008 as well as the contribution of the lower bound constraint to the resulting economic slump. We find that the interest-rate lower bound was a significant constraint on monetary policy that exacerbated the recession and inhibited the recovery, as our mean estimates imply that the zero lower bound (ZLB) accounted for about 30 percent of the sharp contraction in U.S. GDP that occurred in 2009 and an even larger fraction of the slow recovery that followed.

Revision - Accessible materials (.zip)

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Keywords: Zero lower bound, DSGE model, Bayesian estimation

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Last Update: July 10, 2020