This article was originally presented as a speech to the Fiscal Affairs and Government Operations Committee, Council of State Governments' Southern Legislative Conference (SLC), Louisville, Kentucky, July 31, 2006.
This essay challenges the conventional wisdom about money and monetary policy. The role of money in fostering prosperity is a function of the quality, as well as the quantity, of money. Inflation always harms the performance of an economy. Deflations caused by productivity and innovation can be virtuous. A definition of a non-inflationary environment is set forth. Rapid real growth and low unemployment cannot cause inflation. There is no trade-off between inflation and employment. Higher commodity prices or "weak" exchange rates cannot cause inflation. High market interest rates are a symptom of inflationary policies. Low interest rates are a reflection of successful anti-inflationary policies, not "easy money."
In the aftermath of the disruptions caused by hurricanes Katrina and Rita, natural gas prices rose to record-high levels. Because natural gas is an important energy source for the U.S. economy, there was widespread concern that these high prices might cause a significant slowing in the economy"”especially among those manufacturing industries that heavily consume natural gas. The analysis presented in this article suggests that output is responsive to natural gas prices in some manufacturing sectors. Although perhaps significant, this result must be balanced against the finding that, when the analysis is extended to the macroeconomy (real gross domestic product growth), increases in crude oil prices significantly predict real gross domestic product growth, but natural gas prices do not.
This article reviews the history of the recent shift to electronic trading in equity, foreign exchange, and fixed-income markets. The authors analyze a new data set: the eSpeed electronic Treasury network. They contrast the market microstructure of the eSpeed trading platform with the traditional voice-assisted networks that report through GovPX. The electronic market (eSpeed) has greater volume, smaller spreads, and a lower estimated trade impact than the voice market (GovPX).
This article uses probability forecasts derived from options to assess evolving market uncertainty about Federal Reserve monetary policy actions in a variety of recent events and episodes. Options on federal funds futures contracts reveal a complete probability density function over possible Federal Reserve target rates, thus augmenting the expectations provided by federal funds futures contracts. Option-based forecasts are most useful when more than two federal funds target outcomes are plausible at an upcoming policy meeting.