The Economist - 20 January 2001

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The Fed missed by a mile.

George W. Bush inaugural address: Jan. 20, 2001

At this year's annual central bankers' symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Mr Taylor ran his own rule over the Fed see chart 6. Had the central bank followed it, rates in would have been going up not down.

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By the time rates started to rise, the gap between the actual rate and that indicated by the Taylor rule was three percentage points. The gap was finally closed only last year—long after fears of deflation had been banished. The Taylor rule is not the only gauge of monetary policy. For many central banks, the rapid rate of monetary growth has been a related source of worry. Their discomfort has been amplified by their lack of understanding of how the myriad innovations in finance affect the economy. In Britain and the euro zone, the growth in money and credit has been in double digits.

One measure at a global level is American base money plus global foreign-exchange reserves, which picks up the contribution of China's build-up of reserves. Economists can argue each other to a standstill over how precisely money indicates inflation. The ECB still formally rests part of its policy on the long-run correlation between broad-money growth and inflation. Many American economists are sniffy about the whole idea because money gives such a noisy signal. Long before it tells you anything, they believe, other indicators will have shown that inflation is gathering pace.

Yet others, such as Mr King of the Bank of England, take a more nuanced position. In some circumstances, he believes, money and credit will give an earlier sign of inflation than other indicators do.


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You would be foolish to ignore it entirely. Charles Goodhart, of the London School of Economics, and a former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, thinks the debate would shift if inflation were properly measured.

Monetary growth is more likely to go with rapid rises in asset prices than with inflation in goods and services. In any event, when the Fed started cutting rates America's housing market was already vibrant, despite the weakening of the economy as a whole.

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Though the pace slowed in , a poor year for the economy, the market was soon bounding ahead again see chart 7. In most markets, when prices go up, demand goes down. Housing can be different. People bought not just for the comforts that a house could offer or for the rent that it might yield, but in the expectation that prices would keep on rising.

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As the belief that you could not lose took hold, buying property for investment rather than for somewhere to live accounted for a rising share of the market. Housebuilders responded to the surge in demand. The number of housing starts jumped from 1. In housing construction accounted for 6. Although the Fed's easing of policy helped to make housing finance cheaper, it was not the only factor.

Curiously, mortgage rates stayed low even after the central bank had started to increase official rates. The immediate reason was that the price of mortgages does not depend directly on official short-term rates but on the longer-term rates at which lenders can secure funding. But that just raises another question: why did long-term rates not go up when the fed funds rate did?

One possible explanation is that markets had faith in the Fed's ability to rein in inflation in the long term, even though policy was on the loose side. However, financial globalisation may have counted for more.


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And the rest of the world—especially emerging Asian economies and oil exporters—was more than happy to save and lend. Desired saving in emerging economies had gone up, he suggested, for three reasons. After the Asian crisis of emerging economies had become determined to accumulate foreign reserves and resist exchange-rate appreciation.

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Rising crude oil prices had filled oil exporters' coffers and Chinese saving rates rose even faster than investment. This extra desired saving in emerging economies had to be accommodated somehow, because in the world as a whole saving and investment must balance. That implied lower saving relative to investment in developed countries, and lower real interest rates. In effect, oil exporters and Asian savers were pushing down American mortgage rates. Contact us Already a Member? It allows API clients to download millions of rows of historical data, to query our real-time economic calendar, subscribe to updates and receive quotes for currencies, commodities, stocks and bonds.

Click here to contact us. This page provides - Brazilian Real - actual values, historical data, forecast, chart, statistics, economic calendar and news. Brazilian Real - actual data, historical chart and calendar of releases - was last updated on September of Brazil Trade Surplus Widens in August. Brazil Unemployment Rate Lower than Expected. Brazil Inflation Rate Dips Further to 3. Brazil Unexpectedly Cuts Rate by 50 Bps. Brazil Trade Gap Narrows in June. Brazil Jobless Rate Falls to Brazil Leaves Monetary Policy Unchanged.

Brazil Annual Inflation Rate Eases to 4. Even our distinctive blue charts remain. Although the team still feels pretty new it was only formed in , this section has been years in the making. We looked back through the archive to see how data visualisation has evolved from our first issue to the present day. There has always been a place for data on the pages of The Economist.

In the inaugural issue on September 2nd , the editor clearly judged the mood of a numbers-loving nation and placed a table squarely on the front page. And statistics featured heavily elsewhere in the paper.

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The next chart we came across — the flow diagram above from September showing the spread of a cholera outbreak — also came from a letter which was notable for not being written by John Snow although it does refer to an essay by this veritable pioneer of data journalism from his pre-pump-defacing days. The first non-epistolary chart we found was published in November Although it was brazenly copied from a book, we felt it did indeed make the relative size of the coal fields of the world plain:.

But it was clearly not enough to convince our Victorian editors of the benefits of regular data visualisation, and it would take another 70 years until charts, maps and infographics became a weekly occurrence on the pages of The Economist. Over the next hundred years, the exuberance and size of these early visualisations gave way to the smaller, more sober square charts for which we are still best known.

The ethos of these charts has always been to convey interesting and relevant information to the reader clearly and quickly ideally in just a few seconds and with no unnecessary detail. The only change to this has been cosmetic. First they turned red in the early s very on-brand.



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