Globalization and imbalances in historical perspective
Global imbalances associated with the U.S. current account deficit have given rise to speculation about the nature of the impending adjustment: Will it be smooth and gradual, or will it be sudden and costly? This paper summarizes the two views and then considers three historical periods with similar pressures--an earlier era of globalization from 1870 to 1914, the interwar gold standard, and Bretton Woods. A comparison of the periods and their outcomes suggests current global imbalances might resolve themselves quietly.
The Federal Reserve as an informed foreign-exchange trader: 1973-1995
If official interventions convey private information useful for price discovery in foreign-exchange markets, then they should have value as a forecast of near-term exchange-rate movements. Using a set of standard criteria, we show that approximately 60 percent of all U.S. foreign-exchange interventions between 1973 and 1995 were successful in this sense. This percentage, however, is no better than random. U.S. intervention sales and purchases of foreign exchange were incapable of forecasting dollar appreciations or depreciations. U.S. interventions, however, were associated with more moderate ...
Federal Reserve policy and Bretton Woods
During the Bretton Woods era, balance-of-payments developments, gold losses, and exchange-rate concerns had little influence on Federal Reserve monetary policy, even after 1958 when such issues became critical. The Federal Reserve could largely disregard international considerations because the U.S. Treasury instituted a number of stopgap devices?the gold pool, the general agreement to borrow, capital restraints, sterilized foreign-exchange operations?to shore up the dollar and Bretton Woods. These, however, gave Federal Reserve policymakers the latitude to focus on the domestic objectives ...
Inflation, monetary policy and stock market conditions: quantitative evidence from a hybrid latent-variable VAR
This paper examines the association between inflation, monetary policy and U.S. stock market conditions during the second half of the 20th century. We use a latent-variable VAR to estimate the impact of inflation and other macroeconomic shocks on a latent index of stock market conditions. Our objective is to investigate the extent to which various shocks contribute to changes in market conditions, above and beyond their direct effects on real stock prices. We find that disinflation shocks promote market booms and inflation shocks contribute to busts. Further, we find that inflation shocks can ...
Bretton Woods and the U.S. decision to intervene in the foreign-exchange market, 1957-1962
The deterioration in the U.S. balance of payments after 1957 and an accelerating loss of gold reserves prompted U.S. monetary authorities to undertake foreign-exchange-market interventions beginning in 1961. We discuss the events leading up to these interventions, the institutional arrangements developed for that purpose, and the controversies that ensued. Although these interventions forestalled a loss of U.S. gold reserves, in the end, they only delayed more fundamental adjustments and, in that respect, were a failure.
The lender of last resort : alternative views and historical experience
Four views on the proper role of the lender of last resort are defined. Historical evidence is given on the causes of banking panics in the U.S. and other countries and the roles lenders of last resort played in resolving them.
Monetary economic research at the St. Louis Fed during Ted Balbach's tenure as research director
Ted Balbach served as research director at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis from 1975 to 1992. This paper lauds his contributions during that time, including the expanded influence of the Review, enhanced databases and data publications, and a visiting scholar program that attracted leading economists from around the world. Balbach is remembered fondly as a visionary leader and gracious mentor.
How New Fed Corporate Bond Programs Dampened the Financial Accelerator in the COVID-19 Recession
In the financial crisis and recession induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, many investment-grade firms became unable to borrow from securities markets. In response, the Fed not only reopened its commercial paper funding facility but also announced it would purchase newly issued and seasoned bonds of corporations rated as investment grade before the COVID pandemic. A careful splicing of different unemployment rate series enables us to assess the effectiveness of recent Fed interventions in these long-term debt markets over long sample periods, spanning the Great Depression, Great Recession and ...
Aggregate price shocks and financial instability: a historical analysis
This paper presents empirical evidence on the hypothesis that aggregate price disturbances cause or worsen financial distress. We construct two annual indexes of financial conditions for the United States covering 1790-1997, and estimate the effect of aggregate price shocks on each index using a dynamic ordered probit model. We find that price level shocks contributed to financial instability during 1790-1933, and that inflation rate shocks contributed to financial instability during 1980-97. Our research indicates that the size of the aggregate price shocks needed to qualitatively alter ...