The Rise and Fall of Money Growth Targets as Guidelines for U.S. Monetary Policy

Benjamin M. Friedman

NBER Working Paper No. 5465 (Also Reprint No. r2171)
Issued in February 1996
NBER Program(s):Monetary Economics

A familiar question raised by the Federal Reserve System's evolving use of money growth targets over the past twenty years is whether monetary policymakers had sound economic reasons for changing their procedures as they did -- either in adopting money growth targets in the first place, or in subsequently abandoning them, or in both instances. This paper addresses that question by comparing two kinds of evidence based on U.S. time-series data: first, evidence bearing on what Federal Reserve policymakers should have known about the relationship of money to income and prices, and when they should have known it; and second, evidence showing how and when the Federal Reserve changed its actual (as opposed to stated) reliance on money growth targets. The main conclusion from this comparison is that whatever economic conditions might have warranted reliance on money growth targets in the 1970s and early 1980s had long disappeared by the 1990s, so that abandoning these targets was an appropriate response to changing circumstances. Whether adopting money growth targets earlier on was likewise appropriate is less clear.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w5465

Published: “The Rise and Fall of Money Growth Targets as Guidelines for U.S. Monetary Policy.” Kuroda (ed.), Toward More Effective Monetary Policy. London: Macmillan, 1996.

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