The IMF Working Papers series is designed to make IMF staff research available to a wide audience. Almost 300 Working Papers are released each year, covering a wide range of theoretical and analytical topics, including balance of payments, monetary and fiscal issues, global liquidity, and national and international economic developments.
This paper examines the factors which influence the behavior of real interest rates in the United States over the long run. Data on real and nominal returns to bonds and equities are tested for unit root non-stationarity. The results indicate that real and nominal interest rates and inflation are integrated of order one while the evidence on returns to equities is mixed. Short- and long-term real rates were found to be cointegrated with government deficits, government debt relative to GNP, private wealth, real balances relative to GNP, demographic factors and the marginal productivity of capital; demographic, fiscal, and monetary policy variables appear to be particularly significant.