Journal Article

When Tight Is Too Tight: The Federal Reserve’s Response to the Post-World War II Spike in Inflation

Abstract: With the end of World War II, the massive expansion of defense spending came to a halt, and the money supply financing it quickly stabilized. However, the real money supply declined further with the transitory inflationary upswing of 1946–47, which fueled deflationary expectations, passively pushing up real interest rates and triggering the 1949 recession. We compare the Fed’s current stance to this historical episode, concluding that the ongoing tightening is already sufficient to normalize monetary conditions to prepandemic trends. This article also discusses how fiscal policy might affect "neutral" interest rates in this context.

Keywords: Money aggregates; inflation; World War II; neutral interest rates; fiscal policy;

JEL Classification: E6; N12;

Access Documents


Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Part of Series: Policy Hub

Publication Date: 2023-11-09

Volume: 2023

Issue: 8

Pages: 9