NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

The Expectations Trap Hypothesis

Lawrence J. Christiano, Christopher J. Gust

NBER Working Paper No. 7809
Issued in July 2000
NBER Program(s):   EFG

We explore a hypothesis about the take-off in inflation that occurred in the early 1970s. According to the expectations trap hypothesis, the Fed was pushed into producing the high inflation out of a fear of violating the public's inflation expectations. We compare this hypothesis with the Phillips curve hypothesis, according to which the Fed produced the high inflation as an unfortunate by-product of a conscious decision to jump-start a weak economy. Which hypothesis is more plausible has important implications for what needs to be done to prevent other inflation flare-ups.

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Published: Christiano, Lawrence J. and Christopher Gust. "The Expectations Trap Hypothesis," FRB Chicago - Economic Perspectives, 2000, v24(2,Second-Qtr), 21-39.

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