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The Federal Reserve’s Current Framework for Monetary Policy: A Review and Assessment (WP-19-19)

Janice Eberly, James Stock, and Jonathan Wright

The authors review and assess the monetary policy framework currently used by the Federal Reserve, with special focus on policies that operate through the slope of the term structure, including forward guidance and large scale asset purchases. These slope policies are important at the zero lower bound. The researchers study the performance of counterfactual monetary policies since the Great Recession in the framework of a structural VAR, identified using high-frequency jumps in asset prices around FOMC meetings as external instruments. The intention is to give guidance to policymakers responding to future downturns. In their counterfactuals, the authors find that slope policies played an important role in supporting the recovery, but did not fully circumvent the zero lower bound. In their simulations, earlier and more aggressive use of slope policies support a faster recovery. The recovery would also have been faster, with the unemployment gap closing seven quarters earlier, if the Fed had inherited a higher level of inflation and nominal interest rates consistent with a higher inflation target coming into the financial crisis recession. 

Janice Eberly, James R. and Helen D. Russell Professor of Finance and IPR Associate, Northwestern University

James Stock, Harold Hitchings Burbank Professor of Political Economy, Harvard University

Jonathan Wright, Professor of Economics, Johns Hopkins University

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