Working Paper

The (puzzlingly large) relationship between oil prices and long-term interest rates


  • Reicher
  • C.
  • Utlaut
  • J.
Publication Date

We estimate a seven-variable-VAR for the U.S. economy on postwar data using long-run restrictions, taking changes in long-run interest rates and inflation expectations into account. We find a strong connection between oil prices and long-run nominal interest rates which has lasted throughout the entire postwar period. We find that a simple off-the-shelf theoretical model of oil prices and monetary policy, where oil prices are flexible and other prices are sticky, in fact predicts a strong relationship if inflation and oil prices were driven by monetary policy. The observed magnitude of this relationship is still a bit of a puzzle, but this finding does call into question the identification techniques commonly used to identify oil shocks.


JEL Classification
E31, E58, N50

Key Words

  • Inflation
  • Interest rates
  • Oil shocks