Inertial Taylor rules: the benefit of signaling future policy
We trace the consequences of an energy shock on the economy under two different monetary policy rules: a standard Taylor rule where the Fed responds to inflation and the output gap; and a Taylor rule with inertia where the Fed moves slowly to the rate predicted by the standard rule. We show that with both sticky wages and sticky prices, the outcome of an inertial Taylor rule is superior to that of the standard rule, in the sense that inflation is lower and output is higher following an adverse energy shock. However, if prices alone are sticky, things are less clear and the standard rule ...
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.
A conference on liquidity in frictional markets
This Policy Discussion Paper summarizes the papers that were presented at the Liquidity in Frictional Markets conference in November 2008. The papers, which looked at markets for assets as diverse as houses, bank loans, and electronic funds transfer, all explored that amorphous concept called liquidity and how its presenceor absenceaffects the economy.
On systemically important financial institutions and progressive systemic mitigation
One of the most important issues in the regulatory reform debate is that of systemically important financial institutions. This paper proposes a framework for identifying and supervising such institutions; the framework is designed to remove the advantages they derive from becoming systemically important and to give them more time-consistent incentives. It defines criteria for classifying firms as systemically important: size (the classic doctrine of too big to let fail) and the four Cs of systemic importance (contagion, concentration, correlation, and conditions); it also discusses the ...
Does government intervention in the small-firm credit market help economic performance?
The guaranteed lending programs of the Small Business Administration (SBA) are large and growing rapidly. The SBAs fiscal year 2008 performance budget calls for $25 billion in guaranteed loans for small businessesa new record for the agency. Some critics of SBA programs suggest they do not help small businesses or overall economic performance. Other critics suggest that these programs unfairly benefit the financial institutions that participate in SBAs guaranteed lending programs. While very little serious empirical evidence exists on whether the net economic impact of the SBAs guaranteed ...
Oil prices, monetary policy, and the macroeconomy
Every U.S. recession since 1971 has been preceded by two things: an oil price shock and an increase in the federal funds rate. Bernanke, Gertler, and Watson (1997,2004) investigated how much oil price shocks have contributed to output growth by asking the following counterfactual question: Empirically how much would we expect oil price increases to have contributed to output growth if the Fed had kept the rate constant instead of letting it increase? They concluded that, at most, half of the observed output declines can be attributed to oil price increases. Most were actually caused by funds ...
International financial flows and the current business expansion
Since 1992, the United States has enjoyed sustained, rapid economic expansion characterized by rising labor force participation, booming net investment spending for information equipment and computer software, and strong productivity growth. Substantial foreign capital inflows have helped to finance the investment boom as well as a rise in private domestic consumption spending. This paper illustrates how capital inflows can be both a bane and a boon to economic growth.
Fiscal and generational imbalances: new budget measures for new budget priorities
This paper describes the deficiencies of the measures used to calculate the federal budget, make revenue and spending projections, and assess the sustainability of current fiscal policies. The nature of the deficiencies hides the tremendous impact that Social Security and Medicare commitments will have on the budget in the future, given the way the programs are structured currently and the momentous demographic shift underway as the baby boom generation approaches retirement age. This paper proposes two new simple measures that will enable government officials and the public to calculate more ...
A conference on consumer protection in financial product markets
A conference organized by the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland engendered an informative discussion of consumer protection in financial products markets. Anticipating significant changes in financial regulation, the conference asked the question, "How could regulators successfully protect consumers?" It intentionally looked beyond the existing institutions. The first of three panels discussed how consumers gather information and process it to make purchase decisions. Lessons learned from research on food labeling and shopping were discussed. Another panel examined the roles of ...
Inflation and welfare: a search approach
This paper extends recent findings in the search-theoretic literature on monetary exchange regarding the welfare costs of inflation. We present first estimates of the welfare cost of inflation using the "welfare triangle" methodology of Bailey (1958) and Lucas (2000). We then derive a money demand function from the search-theoretic model of Lagos and Wright (2005) and we estimate it from U.S. data over the period 1900-2000. We show that the welfare cost of inflation predicted by the model accords with the welfare-triangle measure when pricing mechanisms are such that buyers appropriate ...