The different pieces of the Taylor rule can be in conflict. For example, the Fed may face a situation where inflation is relatively high, yet the economy is in recession. The precise specification of the rule then provides guidance as to how the Fed trades off its inflation and output goals. The rule is largely descriptive: it summarizes in a succinct manner the actions of the Fed. In doing so, it allows individuals to predict with some accuracy what actions the Fed is likely to take in the future. The Taylor rule describes Fed policy in terms of the real interest rate. We know, however, that the Fed actually targets a nominal rate. This has a surprising implication when we examine how the Fed responds to inflation. Suppose the Fed is currently meeting its target inflation rate—say, 3 percent—and the federal funds rate is currently 5 percent. The real interest rate is therefore 2 percent (remember the Fisher equation). Now suppose the Fed sees that inflation has increased from 3 percent to 4 percent. The increase in the inflation rate has the effect of decreasing the real interest rate—again, this comes directly from the Fisher equation. The real interest rate is now only 1 percent. Yet the Taylor rule tells us that the Fed wants to increase the real interest rate. To do so, it must increase nominal interest rates by more than the increase in the inflation rate. In our example, the inflation rate increased by one percentage point, so the Fed will have to increase its target for the federal funds rate by more than one percentage point—perhaps to 6.5 percent. The Taylor rule completes the circle of monetary policy. As indicated by Figure 10.14 “Completing the Circle of Monetary Policy”, the monetary policy rule links the state of the economy, represented by the inflation rate and the output gap, to the interest rate. There is usually a lag in the response of the Fed to the state of the economy. So, for example, the decision made at the FOMC meeting in February 2005 reflected information on the state of the economy through the end of 2004, at best.