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Sunday, October 11, 2009

More on When the Fed might Raise Rates

by Calculated Risk on 10/11/2009 04:45:00 PM

From Paul Krugman: When should the Fed raise rates? (even more wonkish)

Let me start with a rounded version of the Rudebusch version of the Taylor rule:

Fed funds target = 2 + 1.5 x inflation - 2 x excess unemployment

where inflation is measured by the change in the core PCE deflator over the past four quarters (currently 1.6), and excess unemployment is the different between the CBO estimate of the NAIRU (currently 4.8) and the actual unemployment rate (currently 9.8).

Right now, this rule says that the Fed funds rate should be -5.6%. So we’re hard up against the zero bound.

Suppose that core inflation stays at 1.6% (although in fact it’s almost sure to go lower.) Then we can back out the unemployment rate at which the target would cross zero, suggesting that tightening should begin: it’s an excess unemployment rate of 2.2, implying an actual rate of 7 percent. That’s a long way from here. ...
This is all back-of-the-envelope stuff - and maybe NAIRU or core inflation will be a little higher (although I think core inflation might be lower next year because of declining owners' equivalent rent).

If we use Krugman's analysis, and the recent CBO projections for the average annual unemployment rate (10.2% in 2010, 9.1% in 2011, and 7.2% in 2012), the Fed would not raise rates until some time in 2012.

Last month I wrote:

Fed Funds and Unemployment Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the effective Fed Funds rate (Source: Federal Reserve) and the unemployment rate (source: BLS)

In the early '90s, the Fed waited more than a 1 1/2 years after the unemployment rate peaked before raising rates. The unemployment rate had fallen from 7.8% to 6.6% before the Fed raised rates.

Following the peak unemployment rate in 2003 of 6.3%, the Fed waited a year to raise rates. The unemployment rate had fallen to 5.6% in June 2004 before the Fed raised rates.

Although there are other considerations, since the unemployment rate will probably continue to increase into 2010, I don't expect the Fed to raise rates until late in 2010 at the earliest - and more likely sometime in 2011.
Maybe 2011. Or maybe 2012. But talk of a rate hike in early 2010 seems crazy ...