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Monetary policy of the USA

The Federal Reserve implements monetary policy by manipulating the money supply.

Table of contents
1 Money Aggregates
2 How is money created
3 Federal Reserve and Money Supply
4 Money Supply, Interest rates and the Economy
5 Criticism of monetary policy
6 See also

Money Aggregates

There are different kinds of money in the economy. The main categories are

How is money created

When money is deposited in a bank it can then be loaned out to another person. If the inital deposit was $100 and the bank loans out $100 to another customer the money supply has increased by $100. However, because the depositer can ask for the money back, banks have to maintain minimum reserves to service customer needs. If the reserve requirement is 10% then in the earlier example the bank can only loan out $90 and thus the money supply increses only to $190. This relationship between increase in money supply and reserve requirement is expressed as:

m = 1 / RR

m = money multiplier
RR = reserve requirement

Federal Reserve and Money Supply

The Federal Reserve has two main mechanisms for manipulating the money supply. It can sell treasury securities. When it sells treasury securities it reduces the money supply (because it accepts money in return for a promise to pay in the future). It can purchase treasury securities. When it purchases treasury securities it increases the money supply. Finally, the Federal Reserve can adjust the reserve requirement. The reserve requirement is indirectly related to the money multiplier as show above.

Money Supply, Interest rates and the Economy

When the money supply increases interest rates go down. When interest rates go down businesses and consumers have lower cost of capital and can increase spending and capital improvement projects. This helps the economy. Conversely, when the money supply falls the interest rates go up and reins in the economy. The Federal reserve increases interest rates to combat inflation.

Criticism of monetary policy

Some free market economists, especially those belonging to the Austrian School criticise the very idea of monetary policy, believing that it distorts investment. In the free market interest rates will be set by saver's time preference. If there is a high time preference this means that savers will have a strong preference for consuming goods now rather than saving for them. Thus interest rates will rise due to the low supply of savings. With low time preference interest rates will fall. The interest rates send signals to businessmen as to what is worth investing in, low interest rates will mean that more capital is invested.

Monetary policy means that the interest rates no longer represent consumer time preferences and so investments are made by businessmen with the wrong signals. Lower than market interest rates will therefor mean a higher investment than the economy desires. This will mean that there will be capital goods that have been over invested, and will need to be liquidated. This liquidation is the cause of the depression that makes for the business cycle.

See also