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Why Haven't Long-Term Interest Rates Fallen?

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In 2001, the Federal Reserve lowered the federal funds rate target more than it had in over 25 years, but long term interest rates didn’t budge. Has monetary policy become ineffective? Just the opposite, the authors argue. The stability of long-term rates shows that people don’t expect inflation to rise. That confidence, especially in light of the dramatic shocks the economy experienced, attests to the success of the central bank’s policies.

In 2001, the Federal Reserve lowered the federal funds rate target more than it had in over 25 years, but long term interest rates didn’t budge. Has monetary policy become ineffective? Just the opposite, the authors argue. The stability of long-term rates shows that people don’t expect inflation to rise. That confidence, especially in light of the dramatic shocks the economy experienced, attests to the success of the central bank’s policies.


Suggested citation: Altig, David E., and Nosal, Ed, 2002. "Why Haven't Long-Term Interest Rates Fallen?" Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, Economic Commentary, 01.01.2002.

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