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March/April 2010, 
Vol. 92, No. 2
Posted 2010-03-01

FOMC Learning and Productivity Growth (1985-2003): A Reading of the Record

The increasingly rapid productivity growth that began in the 1990s was the defining economic event of the decade and a major topic of debate among Federal Reserve policymakers. A key aspect of the debate was the contrast between information contained in aggregate data, which initially suggested little productivity gain, and anecdotal firm-level evidence, which hinted at the productivity acceleration. The authors revisit this debate from the actual FOMC transcripts. Their study illustrates the process by which policymakers filter incoming data to identify changes in underlying fundamental trends.