Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest: International Trends and Determinants

40 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2016

See all articles by Kathryn Holston

Kathryn Holston

Harvard University, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics, Students

Thomas Laubach

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System

John C. Williams

Federal Reserve Bank of New York

Date Written: 2016-08-19

Abstract

U.S. estimates of the natural rate of interest – the real short-term interest rate that would prevail absent transitory disturbances – have declined dramatically since the start of the global financial crisis. For example, estimates using the Laubach-Williams (2003) model indicate the natural rate in the United States fell to close to zero during the crisis and has remained there through the end of 2015. Explanations for this decline include shifts in demographics, a slowdown in trend productivity growth, and global factors affecting real interest rates. This paper applies the Laubach-Williams methodology to the United States and three other advanced economies – Canada, the Euro Area, and the United Kingdom. We find that large declines in trend GDP growth and natural rates of interest have occurred over the past 25 years in all four economies. These country-by-country estimates are found to display a substantial amount of comovement over time, suggesting an important role for global factors in shaping trend growth and natural rates of interest.

Keywords: Kalman filter, Monetary policy rules, Natural rate of output, Trend growth

JEL Classification: C32, E43, E52, O40

Suggested Citation

Holston, Kathryn and Laubach, Thomas and Williams, John C., Measuring the Natural Rate of Interest: International Trends and Determinants (2016-08-19). FEDS Working Paper No. 2016-073, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2836372 or http://dx.doi.org/10.17016/FEDS.2016.073

Kathryn Holston (Contact Author)

Harvard University, Harvard Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Department of Economics, Students ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

Thomas Laubach

Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System ( email )

20th Street and Constitution Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20551
United States
202-452-2715 (Phone)
202-452-3819 (Fax)

John C. Williams

Federal Reserve Bank of New York ( email )

33 Liberty Street
New York, NY 10045
United States

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