What’s Up with the Phillips Curve?
U.S. inflation used to rise during economic booms, as businesses charged higher prices to cope with increases in wages and other costs. When the economy cooled and joblessness rose, inflation declined. This pattern changed around 1990. Since then, U.S. inflation has been remarkably stable, even though economic activity and unemployment have continued to fluctuate. For example, during the Great Recession unemployment reached 10 percent, but inflation barely dipped below 1 percent. More recently, even with unemployment as low as 3.5 percent, inflation remained stuck under 2 percent. What ...
Forecasting with the FRBNY DSGE Model
The Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRBNY) has built a DSGE model as part of its efforts to forecast the U.S. economy. On Liberty Street Economics, we are publishing a weeklong series to provide some background on the model and its use for policy analysis and forecasting, as well as its forecasting performance. In this post, we briefly discuss what DSGE models are, explain their usefulness as a forecasting tool, and preview the forthcoming pieces in this series.
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. ...
Developing a Narrative: the Great Recession and Its Aftermath
The severe recession experienced by the U.S. economy between December 2007 and June 2009 has given way to a disappointing recovery. It took three and a half years for GDP to return to its pre-recession peak, and by most accounts this broad measure of economic activity remains below trend today. What precipitated the U.S. economy into the worst recession since the Great Depression? And what headwinds are holding back the recovery? Are these headwinds permanent, calling for a revision of our assessment of the economy?s speed limit? Or are they transitory, although very long-lasting, as the ...
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.
How Unconventional Are Large-Scale Asset Purchases?
The large-scale asset purchases (LSAPs) undertaken by the Fed starting in late November 2008 are widely considered to be a form of ?unconventional? monetary policy. Although these interventions are certainly unprecedented, this post shows that their effect on financial conditions is not that unconventional, in the sense that the relative effects of the LSAPs on returns across broad asset classes?nominal and real government bonds, stocks, and foreign exchange?are quite similar to those of more conventional policies, such as a reduction in the federal funds rate (FFR).
The Effects of the Saving and Banking Glut on the U.S. Economy
We use a quantitative equilibrium model with houses, collateralized debt and foreign borrowing to study the impact of global imbalances on the U.S. economy in the 2000s. Our results suggest that the dynamics of foreign capital flows account for between one fourth and one third of the increase in U.S. house prices and household debt that preceded the financial crisis. The key to these findings is that the model generates the sustained low level of interest rates observed over that period.
Evaluating interest rate rules in an estimated DSGE model
The empirical DSGE (dynamic stochastic general equilibrium) literature pays surprisingly little attention to the behavior of the monetary authority. Alternative policy rule specifications abound, but their relative merit is rarely discussed. We contribute to filling this gap by comparing the fit of a large set of interest rate rules (fifty-five in total), which we estimate within a simple New Keynesian model. We find that specifications in which monetary policy responds to inflation and to deviations of output from its efficient level?the one that would prevail in the absence of ...
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 ...
“Excess Savings” Are Not Excessive
How will the U.S. economy emerge from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic? Will it struggle to return to prior levels of employment and activity, or will it come roaring back as soon as vaccinations are widespread and Americans feel comfortable travelling and eating out? Part of the answer to these questions hinges on what will happen to the large amount of “excess savings” that U.S. households have accumulated since last March. According to most estimates, these savings are around $1.6 trillion and counting. Some economists have expressed the concern that, if a considerable fraction of these ...