The Greenspan Era: Discretion, Rather than Rules
17 Pages Posted: 15 May 2006 Last revised: 13 Aug 2010
Date Written: March 2006
What stands out in retrospect about U.S. monetary policy during the Greenspan Era is the ongoing movement away from mechanistic restrictions on the conduct of policy, together with a willingness on occasion to depart even from what more flexible guidelines dictated by contemporary conventional wisdom would imply, in the interest of carrying out the Federal Reserve System%u2019s dual mandate to pursue both stable prices and maximum employment. Part of this change was procedural %u2013 for example, the elimination of money growth targets. The most substantive demonstration of policy flexibility came in the latter half of the 1990s, as unemployment fell below 6% (in 1994), then below 5% (in 1997), and then remained below 5% for more than four years, yet the Federal Reserve did not tighten monetary policy. This policy stance was consistent with a view of the economy, including faster productivity growth and increased exposure to international competition, that Chairman Greenspan had articulated nearly a decade before.
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