Optimal disinflation under learning
Highly volatile transition dynamics can emerge when a central bank disinflates while operating without full transparency. In our model, a central bank commits to a Taylor rule whose form is known but whose coefficients are not. Private agents learn about policy parameters via Bayesian updating. Under McCallum?s (1999) timing protocol, temporarily explosive dynamics can arise, making the transition highly volatile. Locally unstable dynamics emerge when there is substantial disagreement between actual and perceived feedback parameters. The central bank can achieve low average inflation, but its ...
Learning about Regime Change
Total factor productivity (TFP) and investment specific technology (IST) growth both exhibit regime-switching behavior, but the regime at any given time is difficult to infer. We build a rational expectations real business cycle model where the underlying TFP and IST regimes are unobserved. We then develop a general perturbation solution algorithm for a wide class of models with unobserved regime-switching. Using our method, we show that learning about regime-switching alters the responses to regime shifts and intra-regime shocks, increases asymmetries in the responses, generates forecast ...
Assessing Macroeconomic Tail Risk
What drives macroeconomic tail risk? To answer this question, we borrow a definition of macroeconomic risk from Adrian et al. (2019) by studying (left-tail) percentiles of the forecast distribution of GDP growth. We use local projections (Jord, 2005) to assess how this measure of risk moves in response to economic shocks to the level of technology, monetary policy, and financial conditions. Furthermore, by studying various percentiles jointly, we study how the overall economic outlook-as characterized by the entire forecast distribution of GDP growth-shifts in response to shocks. We find that ...
Moving Macroeconomic Analysis beyond Business Cycles
When analyzing macroeconomic data, it helps to separate longer-term trends from business cycle fluctuations, which may have distinct causes and respond differently to policy. This Economic Brief presents research that uses a novel methodology to establish stylized facts for four key macroeconomic variables for cycles of different durations. This brief makes the case that research and policy should focus on four aspects of economic fluctuations: a short-term component (cycles of less than two years), a business cycle component (cycles between two and eight years), a medium-term component ...
Are the Effects of Monetary Policy Asymmetric?
The Federal Reserve uses monetary policy to stimulate the economy when unemployment is high and to rein in inflationary pressures when the economy is overheating. However, evidence suggests that these policy stances have unequal effects. Contractionary monetary shocks raise unemployment more strongly than expansionary shocks lower it.
Monetary Policy across Space and Time
Many major macroeconomic events have occurred across multiple countries. This Economic Brief looks at similarities and differences among the euro area, the United Kingdom, and the United States and finds that macroeconomic variables tend to become more interconnected during periods of financial distress. Movements in monetary policy are highly correlated across all three regions. In addition, inflation and unemployment become less responsive to monetary policy shocks over time.
The Burns Disinflation of 1974
Economists often describe the Great Inflation of the 1970s as a failure of the monetary policy actions of the Federal Reserve under Chairman Arthur Burns. According to conventional wisdom, when Paul Volcker became chairman of the Fed in 1979, he implemented changes that ushered in a period of disinflation. This Economic Brief challenges this standard narrative in two ways. First, it argues that the ?Volcker disinflation? had its roots in 1974. And second, Volcker?s actions were the culmination of a gradual shift in policy that began under Burns rather than an abrupt shift.
Are the Effects of Fiscal Policy Asymmetric?
Economic research on the size of the fiscal multiplier has assumed that the effects of changes in government spending are symmetric ? that is, they influence economic output to the same degree whether the change is an increase or a decrease. Richmond Fed research indicates that this is not the case; the fiscal multiplier does vary according to the direction of the fiscal action and also varies with the stage of the economic cycle. This finding sheds light on likely outcomes of fiscal policies and helps account for inconsistent estimates of the multiplier in the literature.
How Likely Is a Return to the Zero Lower Bound?
The likelihood of returning to near-zero interest rates is relevant to policymakers in considering the path of future interest rates. At the zero lower bound, the Fed can no longer lower rates and thus can respond to a contraction only through alternative policy measures, such as quantitative easing. Recent research at the Richmond Fed has used repeated simulations of the U.S. economy to estimate the probability of such an occurrence over the next ten years. The estimated probability of returning to the zero lower bound one or more times during this period is approximately one chance in four.
Calculating the Natural Rate of Interest: A Comparison of Two Alternative Approaches
The natural rate of interest is a key concept in monetary economics because its level relative to the real rate of interest allows economists to assess the stance of monetary policy. However, the natural rate of interest cannot be observed; it must be calculated using identifying assumptions. This Economic Brief compares the popular Laubach-Williams approach to calculating the natural rate with an alternative method that imposes fewer theoretical restrictions. Both approaches indicate that the natural rate has been above the real rate for a long time.