Taylor rule

July 27, 2023
The Taylor Rule is an equation that ties the policy rate of a central bank to inflation and economic development. It was developed in 1993 by economist John Taylor and posited a balanced federal funds rate 2% higher than the yearly inflation rate. It changes the equilibrium rate depending on deviations from the central bank's inflation and an actual increase in GDP objectives. According to the Taylor Rule, overshoots of inflation and growth objectives boost the policy rate, whereas deficiencies reduce it. The original Taylor Rule calculation does not account for negative interest rates' inefficiency or substitute monetary policy measures such as asset purchases. Its methodology makes inflation the single most significant factor in determining interest rates, even though the Federal Reserve has an additional duty to maintain price stability and maximum employment.

What is the Taylor rule?

The Taylor Rule (also known as Taylor's rule or Taylor principle) is a formula that connects the Federal Reserve's key interest rate to inflation and economic development levels. Stanford financial analyst John Taylor created the rule as a general rule for fiscal policy but has since advocated for a fixed-rule policy determined by the equation, a cause championed by Republicans trying to restrict the Federal Reserve's policy autonomy.

The Taylor Rule formula relates the Fed's principal interest rate policy tool, the rate of federal funds, to two variables: the gap between actual and intended inflation rates and the difference between desired and observed increases in real GDP. Since policymakers want optimum long-term development at the economy's productive capacity, the difference between actual and intended accurate GDP growth rates is sometimes called an output gap.

The concept of the Taylor rule

In economics, the Taylor rule holds that the Federal Reserve should increase interest rates when inflation or job opportunities peak. On the other hand, if unemployment and inflation are low, interest rates should be reduced.

The equation assumes that high-interest rates will calm the economy whenever inflation rises. The Taylor rule interest rate is ideal for bridging the gap between the actual inflation rate in the economy and the planned inflation rate. This rate will help stabilize the country since, after following the Taylor rule, the interest rate will be greater than the inflation rate, and fiscal stimulus will be efficient.

The essential concern here is whether dynamic changes in macroeconomic growth will affect the "neutral" value of the rate. The interest rate should not be restrictive or expansionary. As a result, it would not tend to raise joblessness over the intended level, and its influence should raise inflation above the target level. If macroeconomic progress leads to increased overall demand, inflation and joblessness will rise, eventually boosting the neutral interest rate, and the reverse is true.

According to the Taylor rule, the Federal Reserve has a 2% inflation objective and applies three principles for establishing the federal funds rate. The principles are as follows:

     i. When the inflation objective is 2% and real GDP equals potential GDP, the federal funds rate should also be 2%.

     ii. Suppose the actual gross domestic product exceeds the potential GDP, indicating an increase in the output gap. In that case, the Fed should increase the federal funds rate by half a percentage point for every one per cent gain.

     iii. If inflation exceeds the Fed's 2% objective, the Fed needs to increase the federal funds rate by 1/2% point for every 1 per cent rise.

Formula and calculation of the Taylor rule

r = p + 0.5y + 0.5(p - 2) + 2


·        r = nominal fed funds rate

·        p = the rate of inflation

·        y = the per cent deviation between current real GDP and the long-term linear trend in GDP 

The formula posits a federal funds rate of 2% above inflation, which is indicated by the total of p (inflation rate) and the "2" on the extreme right. The federal funds rate is considered to elevate or decline by half the difference between actual and intended inflation, with exceeds boosting the rate and decreases decreasing it.

The other factor is the output gap or the difference between actual and intended real GDP growth. Like inflation, every proportion of the output gap affects the projected federal funds rate by half a percentage point, with higher growth boosting it and lower growth decreasing it.

Taylor's rule equation

The Taylor rule yields three numbers: an interest rate, an inflation rate, and a GDP rate, all centered on a balanced rate to provide the right balance for monetary authorities to anticipate interest rates. According to this calculation, the difference between a nominal and an actual interest rate is inflation. Accurate interest rates consider inflation, but nominal interest rates do not. To contrast inflation rates, one must consider the elements that influence them.

Three factors influencing inflation

Three variables influence pricing and inflation: the producer prices, the employment index and the consumer price index (CPI). Most contemporary countries evaluate the consumer price index in its entirety rather than at basic CPI. Because core CPI removes food and energy costs, this technique enables a participant to see the entire picture of an economy to costs and inflation. Price hikes imply increased inflation; thus, Taylor suggests calculating the inflation rate across a year (or four quarters) to get a complete picture.

He suggests that the real interest rate be 1.5 times the inflation rate. It depends on the notion of an equilibrium rate that balances the actual and projected inflation rates. Taylor refers to this as the equilibrium, a 2% stable state with a rate of roughly 2%. However, it is only half of the equation; output must also be considered. A moving average of the different price ranges may detect a trend and smooth out inflation and price level changes. Apply the same operations to monthly interest rate data. Track the fed funds rate to spot trends.

Calculating total economic output

Efficiency, participation in the workforce, and shifts in employment may all be used to calculate an economy's total output. In the Taylor rule computation, we compare actual production to projected work.

The Taylor rule examines GDP about real and nominal GDP, often known as actual and trend GDP. It considers the GDP deflator, which estimates the prices of all items produced in the United States. It is accomplished by dividing nominal GDP by real GDP and multiplying the result by 100. The solution is the actual GDP number. We deflate nominal GDP to a genuine figure to quantify an economy's production.

Rates are considered neutral when inflation is on trend, and GDP rises to its potential. This strategy seeks to regulate the economy in the short term while reducing inflation in the long run.

Asset bubbles and the Taylor rule

Some believed the central bank was primarily to blame for the 2007-2008 housing crisis. They claim that interest rates were maintained artificially low in the years after the dot-com boom and resulting in the 2008 housing market meltdown.

Because this produces asset bubbles, interest rates must be hiked to balance inflation and production levels. Another issue with asset bubbles is that money supply levels climb much above what is required to manage an economy plagued by inflation and production imbalances. If the central bank had implemented the Taylor rule at the time, which suggested that interest rates should be substantially higher, the bubble could have been smaller since fewer individuals would have been encouraged to buy homes. 

Application of the Taylor rule

Taylor's rule underlines the importance of actual rates in fiscal policy formulation. As a result, when inflation exceeds the goal rate, and output exceeds potential, the actual interest rate will cross the equilibrium line. It can be used in government, banking, and other institutions.

This Taylor rule rate serves as a guideline for policymakers. It aids in establishing policy in an economy through an organized strategy over time, which finally leads to excellent outcomes on average. This rule also assists financial market players in establishing a standard for their goals on the future path of monetary policy. This rule allows the Central Bank to readily interact with the public, a critical monetary policy transmission channel.

Advantages of the Taylor rule

     i. The primary benefit of examining a basic rule such as John's is that it can serve as a valuable baseline for policymakers. It methodically links policymaking to the health of the economy so that, on average, it produces pretty decent results over time.

     ii. A second advantage of simple rules is that they assist financial market players in establishing a baseline for future monetary policy expectations.

     iii. Furthermore, straightforward guidelines can assist the central bank in communicating with the general population. Such comprehension is critical for the monetary policy transmission mechanism.

Critiques and restrictions of the Taylor rule

Amid relatively peaceful periods of consistent expansion and mild inflation, the Taylor rule has proved to be a reliable guide to monetary policy but considerably not as successful during economic downturns. For example, the Taylor rule and its counterparts stipulated a significantly negative federal funds rate throughout the short, severe financial crisis resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, even though the fed funds rate is effectively limited by the zero bounds, as pointed out by the Federal Reserve in its June 2022 fiscal policy report to Congress.

Since negative interest rates render monetary policy ineffectual, central banks have reacted to major economic downturns with alternate methods such as large-scale asset purchases, often called quantitative easing. According to the Fed, the fundamental Taylor Rule does not consider these policy possibilities. It also disregards risk management rules, regarding the production gap and inflation rate as foreseeable and their deviations from objectives as equally significant.

These metrics are vulnerable to massive changes during economic strain, which might confuse policymakers' estimates of their stable direction. Few criticized the Fed for emphasizing downside risks during the COVID-19 panic, but the Taylor Rule constantly deals with current inflation as a comparable factor regardless of conditions. Former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke advanced similar arguments in response to Taylor's critiques of the Fed's monetary policies before and during the 2007-2009 global financial meltdown.

Changes to the Taylor rule

The Taylor Rule makes inflation the single most significant component by establishing a base short-term interest rate 2% above annual inflation. Janet Yellen, then-Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, mentioned a modified Taylor Rule that gave equal weight to departures from the Fed's inflation and growth objectives while adding that it would still have dictated suboptimal monetary policy.

In June 2022, the Federal Reserve's fiscal policy report provided an embodiment of this kind of "balanced-approach" rule, as well as a substitute alteration of the Taylor Rule stalling the required rate raises to offset the overall shortfall in policy modifications as a consequence of the practical lower limit.

According to Bernanke, the Fed is more inclined to accept a Taylor Rule formula that doubles the weighting of the output gap element relative to inflation since it is most compatible with the Fed's dual mandate of promoting price stability and optimum employment. In line with the employment portion of the Fed's obligation, the Federal Reserve's variants of the Taylor rule also substitute the output gap with the difference between the rate of long-term unemployment and present unemployment. The Federal Reserve's favored inflation gauge is the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) cost index.


The Taylor Rule does not consider the Federal Reserve's duty to achieve maximum job creation and the variety of policy instruments at the Fed's disposal by presuming a balanced federal funds rate 2% above annual inflation. Furthermore, a fixed-rule fiscal stimulus ignores the world's variety and volatility. Taylor stated 1993 that it was difficult to examine how algebraic policy guidelines could be sufficiently comprehensive to influence interest rates. He admitted in the same paper that there might be times when the fiscal stance must be altered to deal with particular variables.