NBER Working Papers by Athanasios Orphanides

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Working Papers

May 2011Monetary Policy Mistakes and the Evolution of Inflation Expectations
with John Williams: w17080
What monetary policy framework, if adopted by the Federal Reserve, would have avoided the Great Inflation of the 1960s and 1970s? We use counterfactual simulations of an estimated model of the U.S. economy to evaluate alternative monetary policy strategies. We show that policies constructed using modern optimal control techniques aimed at stabilizing inflation, economic activity, and interest rates would have succeeded in achieving a high degree of economic stability as well as price stability only if the Federal Reserve had possessed excellent information regarding the structure of the economy or if it had acted as if it placed relatively low weight on stabilizing the real economy. Neither condition held true. We document that policymakers at the time both had an overly optimistic view of...
August 2003Imperfect Knowledge, Inflation Expectations, and Monetary Policy
with John C. Williams: w9884
This paper investigates the role that imperfect knowledge about the structure of the economy plays in the formation of expectations, macroeconomic dynamics, and the efficient formulation of monetary policy. Economic agents rely on an adaptive learning technology to form expectations and to update continuously their beliefs regarding the dynamic structure of the economy based on incoming data. The process of perpetual learning introduces an additional layer of dynamic interaction between monetary policy and economic outcomes. We find that policies that would be efficient under rational expectations can perform poorly when knowledge is imperfect. In particular, policies that fail to maintain tight control over inflation are prone to episodes in which the public's expectations of inflation be...
July 1994Leverage as a State Variable for Employment, Inventory Accumulation, andFixed Investment
with Charles W. Calomiris, Steven A. Sharpe: w4800
The importance of a firm's balance sheet for determining its investment and employment decisions is the central assumption of macroeconomic models of 'debt deflation' or 'debt overhang.' According to these models, firm investment decisions are influenced not only by the fundamental opportunity set of the firm, but also by the firm's existing financial condition, especially its leverage. This paper tests that assumption by examining whether the responsiveness of employment, investment, and inventory accumulation to exogenous changes in sales depend on the leverage of the firm. We find that leverage acts as an important state variable for conditioning the response of all three variables to changes in sales. We also find that this effect varies depending on the state of the economy. During ...

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