Journal Article

The federal funds rate as an indicator of monetary policy: evidence from the 1980s


Abstract: Recently, several economists have argued that movements in the federal funds rate are a good proxy for changes in monetary policy. In this article, Nathan Balke and Kenneth Emery critically examine this view and the evidence supporting it. Using simple vector autoregressions, they find that before 1980 the correlations between the federal funds rate and other important macroeconomic variables are consistent with a traditional monetary policy interpretation of the federal funds rate. However, they show that after 1982 the relationships between the federal funds rate and other macroeconomic variables change significantly. Most important, the correlations between the federal funds rate and other macroeconomic variables observed during the 1980s are not as consistent with a traditional monetary policy view of the federal funds rate as they were before 1980. ; Balke and Emery's work highlights how relationships between important macroeconomic variables can change when institutions or policy regimes change. While the federal funds rate may still be a good indicator of monetary policy, its relationship with other important macroeconomic variables is now clearly different from what it was before 1980.

Keywords: Interest rates; Economic indicators;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas

Part of Series: Economic and Financial Policy Review

Publication Date: 1994

Issue: Q I

Pages: 1-15