Discussion Paper

Is U.S. Monetary Policy Seasonal?


Abstract: Many economic time series display periodic and predictable patterns within each calendar year, generally referred to as seasonal effects. For example, retail sales tend to be higher in December than in other months. These patterns are well-known to economists, who apply statistical filters to remove seasonal effects so that the resulting series are more easily comparable across months. Because policy decisions are based on seasonally adjusted series, we wouldn?t expect the decisions to exhibit any seasonal behavior. Yet, in this post we find that the Federal Reserve has been much more likely to lower interest rates in the first month of each quarter over the past twenty-five years. While some of this seasonality is a result of meeting scheduling, a large seasonal component remains unexplained.

Keywords: Federal funds rate; FOMC; seasonality;

JEL Classification: E2;E5;

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Bibliographic Information

Provider: Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Part of Series: Liberty Street Economics

Publication Date: 2012-10-01

Number: 20121001