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货币政策之谜

坎布里奇—自20世纪80年代以来,美国和其他许多国家的通货膨胀被治理得服服帖帖,这是战后经济史的一个显著特征。此前,美国通货膨胀率(基于个人消费支出平减指数)在20世纪70年代平均为每年6.6%,1979—1980年更是超过10%。

在20世纪70年代早期和中期,尼克松总统和福特总统试图以错误的政策组合遏制通胀——价格管控和劝诫,辅之以货币政策约束。但接着卡特上台,一开始他保持了这一方针,后来在1979年8月任命保罗·沃尔克(Paul Volcker)为美联储主席。在沃尔克的领导下,美联储很快便开始提高短期名义利率,遏制通胀需要多高的利率就提高到多少。

1981年1月后,在里根总统的支持下,尽管承受了巨大的政治压力,沃尔克仍坚持这一方针不动摇,当年7月,联邦基金利率达到了22%的最高值。该政策起了作用:年通胀在1983—1989年间猛烈下降至平均3.4%的水平。美联储对于日后所谓的“泰勒原则”(Taylor Principle,或者应该说是沃尔克原则更加合理)极其满意,即联邦基金利率应比通货膨胀率升高更多。

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