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March 1981

Navigating Through the Interest Rate Morass: Some Basic Principles

by G.J. Santoni and Courtenay C. Stone

In ancient times, the Delphic oracle was renowned for providing cryptic, often meaningless, answers to important questions. In recent times, this Delphic tradition has seemingly inspired much of the popular discussion about the causes and consequences of interest rate movements. Without difficulty, one can find comments that indicate that interest rates are simultaneously too high and too low; or, that high interest rates are “caused” both by slower money growth and expansionary money growth; or, to cite one of the more puzzling pieces of analysis, that the dollar will rise in foreign exchange markets because of interest rate movements, whether interest rates rise or fall.