Forecasting with Julia
A little more than a year ago, in this post, we announced DSGE.jl?a package for working with dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models using Julia, the open-source computing language. At that time, DSGE.jl contained only the code required to specify, solve, and estimate such models using Bayesian methods. Now, we have extended the package to provide the additional code needed to produce economic forecasts, counterfactual simulations, and inference on unobservable variables, such as the natural rate of interest or the output gap. The old, pre-Julia version of the code, which was ...
A New Perspective on Low Interest Rates
Interest rates in the United States have remained at historically low levels for many years. This series of posts explores the forces behind the persistence of low rates. We briefly discuss some of the explanations advanced in the academic literature, and propose an alternative hypothesis that centers on the premium associated with safe and liquid assets. Our argument, outlined in a paper we presented at the Brookings Conference on Economic Activity last March, suggests that the increase in this premium since the late 1990s has been a key driver of the decline in the real return on U.S. ...
A Time-Series Perspective on Safety, Liquidity, and Low Interest Rates
The previous post in this series discussed several possible explanations for the trend decline in U.S. real interest rates since the late 1990s. We noted that while interest rates have generally come down over the past two decades, this decline has been more pronounced for Treasury securities. The conclusion that we draw from this evidence is that the convenience associated with the safety and liquidity embedded in Treasuries is an important driver of the secular (long-term) decline in Treasury yields. In this post and the next, we provide an overview of the two complementary empirical ...
A DSGE Perspective on Safety, Liquidity, and Low Interest Rates
The preceding two posts in this series documented that interest rates on safe and liquid assets, such as U.S. Treasury securities, have declined significantly in the past twenty years. Of course, short-term interest rates in the United States are under the control of the Federal Reserve, at least in nominal terms. So it is legitimate to ask, To what extent is this decline driven by the Federal Reserve?s interest rate policy? This post addresses this question by coupling the results presented in the previous post with those obtained from an estimated dynamic stochastic general equilibrium ...
Global Trends in Interest Rates
Long-term government bond yields are at their lowest levels of the past 150 years in advanced economies. In this blog post, we argue that this low-interest-rate environment reflects secular global forces that have lowered real interest rates by about two percentage points over the past forty years. The magnitude of this decline has been nearly the same in all advanced economies, since their real interest rates have converged over this period. The key factors behind this development are an increase in demand for safety and liquidity among investors and a slowdown in global economic growth.
DSGE forecasts of the lost recovery
The years following the Great Recession were challenging for forecasters. Unlike other deep downturns, this recession was not followed by a swift recovery, but generated a sizable and persistent output gap that was not accompanied by deflation as a traditional Phillips curve relationship would have predicted. Moreover, the zero lower bound and unconventional monetary policy generated an unprecedented policy environment. We document the real real-time forecasting performance of the New York Fed dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) model during this period and explain the results using ...
Dynamic effects of credit shocks in a data-rich environment
We examine the dynamic effects of credit shocks using a large data set of U.S. economic and financial indicators in a structural factor model. An identified credit shock resulting in an unanticipated increase in credit spreads causes a large and persistent downturn in indicators of real economic activity, labor market conditions, expectations of future economic conditions, a gradual decline in aggregate price indices, and a decrease in short- and longer-term riskless interest rates. Our identification procedure, which imposes restrictions on the response of a small number of economic ...
The forward guidance puzzle
With short-term interest rates at the zero lower bound, forward guidance has become a key tool for central bankers, and yet we know little about its effectiveness. This paper first empirically documents the impact of forward guidance announcements on a broad cross section of financial markets data and professional forecasts. We find that Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) announcements containing forward guidance had heterogeneous effects depending on the other content of the statement. We show that once we control for these other elements, forward guidance had, on average, positive and ...
Why Didn’t Inflation Collapse in the Great Recession?
GDP contracted 4 percent from 2008:Q2 to 2009:Q2, and the unemployment rate peaked at 10 percent in October 2010. Traditional backward-looking Phillips curve models of inflation, which relate inflation to measures of “slack” in activity and past measures of inflation, would have predicted a substantial drop in inflation. However, core inflation declined by only one percentage point, from 2.2 percent in 2007 to 1.2 percent in 2009, giving rise to the “missing deflation” puzzle. Based on this evidence, some authors have argued that slack must have been smaller than suggested by ...
Why Are Interest Rates So Low?
In a recent series of blog posts, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve System, Ben Bernanke, has asked the question: 'Why are interest rates so low?' (See part 1, part 2, and part 3.) He refers, of course, to the fact that the U.S. government is able to borrow at an annualized rate of around 2 percent for ten years, or around 3 percent for thirty years. If you expect that inflation is going to be on average 2 percent over the next ten or thirty years, this implies that the U.S. government can borrow at real rates of interest between 0 and 1 percent at the ten- and thirty-year ...