This post uses the New York Fed DSGE model to ask the question: What would have happened to interest rates, output, and inflation had the Federal Reserve been following an average inflation targeting (AIT)-type reaction function since 2021:Q2, when inflation began to rise—as opposed to keeping the federal funds rate at the zero lower bound (ZLB) until March 2022, and then raising it aggressively thereafter? We show that actual policy was more accommodative in 2021 than implied by the AIT reaction function and then more contractionary in 2022 and beyond. On net, the lagged effect of monetary policy on the level of GDP, when measured relative to the counterfactual, has been positive throughout the forecast horizon, due to the initial boost associated with keeping the fed funds rate near zero in 2021.
Over the last few years, the U.S. economy has experienced unusually high inflation and an unprecedented pace of monetary policy tightening. While inflation has fallen recently, it remains above target, and the economy continues to expand at a robust pace. Does the resilience of the U.S. economy imply that monetary policy has been ineffectual? Or does it reflect that policy acts with “long and variable lags” and so we haven’t yet observed the full effect of the monetary tightening that has already taken place? Using a Bayesian vector autoregressive (BVAR) model, we show that economic activity has, indeed, been substantially stronger than would have been anticipated considering the rapid policy tightening. Still, the model expects a significant slowdown in 2024-25, even though short-term interest rates are forecasted to fall.
Editors Note: The title of this post has been changed from the original. August 17, 2023, 10:35 a.m.
Inflation in the U.S. has experienced unusually large movements in the last few years, starting with a steep rise between the spring of 2021 and June 2022, followed by a relatively rapid decline over the past twelve months. This marks a stark departure from an extended period of low and stable inflation. Economists and policymakers have expressed differing views about which factors contributed to these large movements (as reported in the media here, here, here, and here), leading to fierce debates in policy circles, academic journals, and the press. We know little, however, about the consumer’s perspective on what caused these sudden movements in inflation. In this post, we explore this question using a special module of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) in which consumers were asked what they think contributed to the recent movements in inflation. We find that consumers think supply-side issues were the most important factor behind the 2021-22 inflation surge, while they regard Federal Reserve policies as the most important factor behind the recent and expected future decline in inflation.
Since the global financial crisis, the Federal Reserve has relied on two main rates to implement monetary policy—the rate paid on reserve balances (IORB rate) and the rate offered at the overnight reverse repo facility (ON RRP rate). In this post, we explore how these tools steer the federal funds rate within the Federal Reserve’s target range and how effective they have been at supporting rate control.
This post discusses the evolution of the short-run natural rate of interest, or short-run r*, over the past year and a half according to the New York Fed DSGE model, and the implications of this evolution for inflation and output projections. We show that, from the model’s perspective, short-run r* has increased notably over the past year, to some extent outpacing the large increase in the policy rate. One implication of these findings is that the drag on the economy from recent monetary policy tightening may have been limited, rationalizing why economic conditions have remained relatively buoyant so far despite the elevated level of interest rates.
While forecasters generally disagree about the expected path of monetary policy, the level of disagreement as measured in the New York Fed’s Survey of Primary Dealers (SPD) has increased substantially since 2022. For instance, the dispersion of expectations about the future path of the target federal funds rate (FFR) has widened significantly. What explains the current elevated disagreement in FFR forecasts?
Comparing our financial stability real interest rate, r** (“r-double-star”) with the prevailing real interest rate gives a measure of how vulnerable the economy is to financial instability. In this post, we first explain how r** can be measured, and then discuss its evolution over the last fifty years and how to interpret the recent banking turmoil within this framework.
The timely characterization of risks to the economic outlook plays an important role in both economic policy and private sector decisions. In a February 2023 Liberty Street Economics post, we introduced the concept of “Outlook-at-Risk”—that is, the downside risk to real activity and two-sided risks to inflation. Today we are launching Outlook-at-Risk as a regularly updated data product, with new readings for the conditional distributions of real GDP growth, the unemployment rate, and inflation to be published each month. In this post, we use the data on conditional distributions to investigate how two-sided risks to inflation and downside risks to real activity have evolved over the current and previous five monetary policy tightening cycles.
The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) started increasing rates on March 16, 2022, and after the January 31–February 1, 2023, FOMC meeting, the lower bound of the target range of the federal funds rate had reached 4.50 percent, a level last registered in November 2007. Such a rapid rates increase could pass through to higher funding costs for U.S. corporations. In this post, we examine how corporate leverage and bond market debt have evolved over the course of the current tightening cycle and compare the current experience to that during the previous three tightening cycles.
The size of the money market fund (MMF) industry co-moves with the monetary policy cycle. In a post published in 2019, we showed that this co-movement is likely due to the stronger response of MMF yields to monetary policy tightening relative to bank deposit rates, combined with MMF shares and bank deposits being close substitutes from an investor’s perspective. In this post, we update the analysis and zoom in to the current monetary policy tightening by the Federal Reserve.