Monetary Policy Lessons of recent Inflation and Disinflation

William Poole

NBER Working Paper No. 2300
Issued in June 1987
NBER Program(s):Economic Fluctuations and Growth Program, Monetary Economics Program

The decline of velocity in the 1980s is a surprise that should not have been. Economists unwisely relied on a velocity trend of 3 percent per year when they should have insisted on an economic explanation for rising velocity. An analysis of velocity and interest rates from 1915 to 1986 suggests that the interest elasticity of money demand is substantially higher than previously thought. The postwar increase of rates followed by a major decline of rates in the 1980s explains velocity behavior. The large decline in velocity almost certainly would have caused severe economic problems had the Federal Reserve not accommodated the decline through more rapid money growth. Federal Reserve policy between October 1979 and October 1982 emphasized control of money growth. Money market behavior during this period, compared to periods before and after, provides strong evidence that the market sets interest rates on the basis of a sophisticated understanding of monetary policy. The evidence makes clear that the monetary authorities cannot use interest rates to provide information on the state of the economy unless they know the extent to which interest rates reflect expectations of future monetary policy.

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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w2300

Published: Poole, William. "Monetary Policy Lessons of Recent Inflation and Disinflation," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 2(3), pages 73-100, Summer 1988 citation courtesy of

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