Peter Ireland

Research Papers

Research Paper (pdf): Allan Meltzer's Model of the Transmission Mechanism and Its Implication for Today
(Revised December 2017) Allan Meltzer developed his model of the monetary transmission mechanism in research conducted with Karl Brunner. The Brunner-Meltzer model implies that the Federal Reserve would benefit from drawing brighter lines between monetary and fiscal policy actions, eschewing credit market intervention and focusing, instead, on using its control over the monetary base to stabilize the aggregate price level. The model downplays the importance of the zero lower interest rate bound and suggests a greater role for monetary aggregates in the Fed's policymaking strategy. Finally, it highlights the benefits that accrue when policy is conducted according to a rule rather than discretion.

Research Paper (pdf): A Classical View of the Business Cycle
(Revised February 2018) (co-authored with Michael T. Belongia) In the 1920s, Irving Fisher extended his previous work on the Quantity Theory to describe how, through an early version of the Phillips Curve, changes in the price level could affect both output and unemployment. At the same time, Holbrook Working designed a quantitative rule for achieving price stability through control of the money supply. This paper develops a structural vector autoregressive time series model that allows these "classical" channels of monetary transmission to operate alongside, or perhaps even instead of, the now-more-familiar interest rate channels of the canonical New Keynesian model. Even with Bayesian priors that intentionally favor the New Keynesian view, the United States data produce posterior distributions for the model's key parameters that are more consistent with the ideas of Fisher and Working. Changes in real money balances enter importantly into the model's aggregate demand relationship, while growth in Divisia M2 appears in the estimated monetary policy rule. Contractionary monetary policy shocks reveal themselves through persistent declines in nominal money growth instead of rising nominal interest rates. These results point to the need for new theoretical models that capture a wider range of channels through which monetary policy affects the economy and suggest that, even today, the monetary aggregates could play a useful role in the Federal Reserve's policymaking strategy.

Research Paper (pdf): Circumventing the Zero Lower Bound with Monetary Policy Rules Based on Money
(Revised January 2017) (co-authored with Michael T. Belongia) Discussions of monetary policy rules after the 2007-2009 recession highlight the potential ineffectiveness of a central bank's actions when the short-term interest rate under its control is limited by the zero lower bound. This perspective assumes, in a manner consistent with the canonical New Keynesian model, that the quantity of money has no role to play in transmitting a central bank's actions to economic activity. This paper examines the validity of this claim and investigates the properties of alternative monetary policy rules based on control of the monetary base or a monetary aggregate in lieu of the capacity to manipulate a short-term interest rate. The results indicate that rules of this type have the potential to guide monetary policy decisions toward the achievement of a long-run nominal goal without being constrained by the zero lower bound on a nominal interest rate. They suggest, in particular, that by exerting its influence over the monetary base or a broader aggregate, the Federal Reserve could more effectively stabilize nominal income around a long-run target path, even in a low or zero interest-rate environment.
Appendix with supplementary results

Research Paper (pdf): The Demand for Divisia Money: Theory and Evidence
(Revised January 2018) (co-authored with Michael T. Belongia) A money-in-the-utility function model is extended to capture the distinct roles of noninterest-earning currency and interest-earning deposits in providing liquidity services to households. It implies the existence of a stable money demand relationship that links a Divisia monetary aggregate to spending or income as a scale variable and the associated Divisia user-cost dual as an opportunity cost measure. Cointegrating money demand equations of this form appear in quarterly United States data spanning the period from 1967:1 through 2017:2, especially for the Divisia M2 aggregate. The identification of a stable money demand function over a period that includes the financial innovations of the 1980s and continues through the recent financial crisis and Great Recession suggests that a properly measured aggregate quantity of money can play a role in the conduct of monetary policy. That role can be of greater prominence when traditional interest rate policies are constrained by the zero lower bound.
Appendix with supplementary results

Research Paper (pdf): The Evolution of US Monetary Policy: 2000 - 2007
(Revised August 2016) (co-authored with Michael T. Belongia) A vector autoregression with time-varying parameters is used to characterize changes in Federal Reserve policy that occurred from 2000 through 2007 and describe how they affected the performance of the U.S. economy. Declining coefficients in the model's estimated policy rule point to a shift in the Fed's emphasis away from stabilizing inflation over this period. More importantly, however, the Fed held the federal funds rate persistently below the values prescribed by this rule. Under this more discretionary policy, inflation overshot its target and the funds rate followed a path reminiscent of the "stop-go" pattern that characterized Fed behavior prior to 1979.

Research Paper (pdf): Interest on Reserves: History and Rationale, Complications and Risks
(Revised February 2018) Among the enduring legacies of the financial crisis of 2007-09, interest on reserves now plays a central role in the Federal Reserve's policymaking framework. Famous arguments justify paying interest on reserves on economic efficiency grounds. In practice, however, the Fed has used its power to pay interest on reserves to facilitate credit market interventions that extend well beyond those required by its traditional central banking functions: conducting monetary policy to stabilize the aggregate nominal price level and acting as a lender of last resort to illiquid but solvent depository institutions. Resulting complications and risks raise strong doubts about the wisdom of making interest on reserves a permanent part of the Fed's toolkit.

Research Paper (pdf): Money Multiplier Shocks
(Revised August 2017) (co-authored with Luca Benati) Shocks to the M1 multiplier--in particular, shocks to the reserves/deposits ratio--played a key role in driving U.S. macroeconomic fluctuations during the interwar period, but their role in the post-WWII era has been almost uniformly negligible. The only exception are shocks to the currency/deposits ratio, which played a sizable role for inflation and M1 velocity. By contrast, shocks to the multiplier of the non-M1 component of M2, which had been irrelevant in the interwar period, have played a significant role in driving the nominal side of the economy during the post-WWII period up to the collapse of Lehman Brothers, in particular during the Great Inflation episode. During either period, the multiplier of M2-M1 has been cointegrated with the short rate. The monetary base had exhibited a non-negligible amount of permanent variation during the interwar period, whereas it has been trend-stationary during the post-WWII era. In spite of the important role played by shocks to the multiplier of M2-M1 during the post-WWII period, we still detect a non-negligible role for a non-monetary permanent inflation shock, which has the natural interpretation of a disturbance originating from the progressive de-anchoring of inflation expectations which started in the mid-1960s, and their gradual re-anchoring following the beginning of the Volcker disinflation.

Published Papers

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