Ricardo Caballero, Emmanuel Farhi, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, 13 December 2017

The US has seen a fall in real interest rates but stable real returns on productive capital in the last few decades. This column argues that these divergent trends are inherently interlinked, and arise from a combination of a rise in the capital risk premium, an increase in monopoly rents from mark-ups, and capital-biased technical change. With these secular trends unlikely to reverse anytime soon, we are likely to live in a prolonged era of low interest rates, high capital risk premia, and low labour share.

Henrike Michaelis, Volker Wieland, 03 February 2017

In a recent speech, Janet Yellen, Chair of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, compared the Fed’s strategy to simple reference rules, including the Taylor rule. This column argues that the comparisons enhance the Fed’s transparency and can help it to stand up to political pressure. However, Chair Yellen also suggests an important role for estimates of medium-run equilibrium real rates. Such estimates are extremely uncertain and sensitive to technical assumptions, and thus should not be used as key determinants of policy stance.

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