Scandinavian Working Papers in Economics

Working Paper Series,
Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden)

No 220: Monetary Policy Regimes and the Volatility of Long-Term Interest Rates

Virginia Queijo von Heideken ()
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Virginia Queijo von Heideken: Research Department, Central Bank of Sweden, Postal: Sveriges Riksbank, SE-103 37 Stockholm, Sweden

Abstract: This paper addresses two important questions that have, so far, been studied separately in the literature. First, the paper aims at explaining the high volatility of long-term interest rates observed in the data, which is hard to replicate using standard macro models. Building a small-scale macroeconomic model and estimating it on U.S. and U.K. data, I show that the policy responses of a central bank that is uncertain about the natural rate of unemployment can explain this volatility puzzle. Second, the paper aims at shedding new light on the distinction between rules and discretion in monetary policy. My empirical results show that using yield curve data may facilitate the empirical discrimination between different monetary policy regimes and that U.S. monetary policy is best understood as originating from a discretionary regime since 1960.

Keywords: long-term interest rates; optimal monetary policy; discretion; commitment; Bayesian estimation

JEL-codes: C11; C13; C15; E32; E42; E43; E47; E50

53 pages, February 1, 2008

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