You observe an economy sinking in recession. As this occurs, real interest rates are rising, and the currency is strengthening. What shock, or set of shocks, could have caused these events?
Bernanke’s problem, and ours. This picture shows the target Fed funds rate, the usual tool of monetary policy; the 10-year Treasury rate; and two rates that actually matter to the private sector, the mortgage rate and the rate on Baa-rated corporate bonds. The Fed has had no success in reducing mortgage rates, and corporate borrowing costs have gone up, not down. Add in falling expectations of inflation, and in real terms monetary policy has gotten tighter, not easier.