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Seven Faces of "The Peril"

In this paper the author discusses the possibility that the U.S. economy may become enmeshed in a Japanese-style deflationary outcome within the next several years. To frame the discussion, the author relies on an analysis that emphasizes two possible long-run steady states for the economy: one that is consistent with monetary policy as it has typically been implemented in the United States in recent years and one that is consistent with the low nominal interest rate, deflationary regime observed in Japan dur- ing the same period. The data considered seem to be quite consistent with the two steady-state possibil- ities. The author describes and critiques seven stories that are told in monetary policy circles regarding this analysis and emphasizes two main conclusions: (i) The Federal Open Market Committee’s “extended period” language may be increasing the probability of a Japanese-style outcome for the United States and (ii), on balance, the U.S. quantitative easing program offers the best tool to avoid such an outcome.

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