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The Relationship Between Real Interest Rates and Inflation

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The Relationship between Real Interest Rates and Inflation
Michał Brzoza-Brzezina*

Abstract In the recent decade, a huge amount of papers, describing monetary policy rules based on nominal interest rates, has been written. As it is, however, well known, it is in fact the real and not the nominal interest rate, that can influence spending decisions of enterprises and households and thus inflation. One way, to describe the relationship between real interest rates and inflation, is based on our experience with the monetary theory of the price level. The quantity theory of money can be used under certain assumptions as a good description of the long-run relationship between money and prices. In this respect the best known empirical application is probably the P-star model of Hallman, Porter and Small (1991). In this paper we use two simple descriptions of the long run link between real interest rates and inflation, and subsequently test their empirical performance, using similar techniques as employed in P-star modeling. In an empirical study, based on cointegration analysis, we show that the gap between the real and natural rate of interest does not determine inflation, as it is often postulated, but its growth rate. We find that this relationship describes reasonably well the long run influence of the interest rate gap on inflation. Simultaneously we calculate the average natural rate of interest.

JEL: E31, E40. Keywords: Inflation, Natural Rate of Interest
*) Research Department, National Bank of Poland and Chair of Monetary Policy (Warsaw School of Economics). The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Bank. I gratefully acknowledge comments on this paper received from J.Amato, J.Borowski, L.Christiano, M.Dudek, R.Harrison, R.Kokoszczyński, L.Mahadeva, Z.Polański, P.Robinson, the participants of the Summer School…...

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