Fed And Monetary Policy Justin McVay Period 4 Macroeconomics Term Paper FEDERAL RESERVE AND MONETARY POLICY Monetary policy affects the economic and financial decisions of virtually all of us from workers to borrowers to investors (Rukeyser 105). Louis Rukeyser wrote, If we want monetary policy to play its proper role in a true national economic reconstruction, the authentic task is to get the Fed to stop bouncing like a Chinese Ping-Pong ball, switching every few months between the inflationary effect of pumping far too much money into the economy and cramping, recessionary effect of supplying far to little (Rukeyser 104). And, because the US is the largest economy in the world, its monetary policy also has significant economic and financial effects on other countries. The object of monetary policy is to influence the performance of the economy, as reflected in such factors as inflation, economic output, and employment. It does so by affecting demand.
Most people are familiar with the fiscal policy tools that affect demand, such as taxes and government spending. Less familiar is monetary policy; it is conducted by the Federal Reserve System, the nations central bank, and it influences demand mainly by raising and lowering short-term interest rates. The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) is the nations central bank. It was established by an Act of Congress in 1913 and consists of the seven members of the Board of Governors in Washington, DC and twelve Federal Reserve District Banks. Congress structured the Fed to be independent within the government.
What that means is although the Fed I accountable to Congress, it is insulated from day-to-day political pressures. This reflects the conviction held both the US and in many other countries that the people who control the countrys money supply should be independent of the people who frame the governments spending decisions. Most studies of central bank independence rank the Fed among the most independent in the world (World 68). Each reserve bank President is appointed to a five-year term by that banks Board of Directors, subject to final approval by the Board of Governors. This procedure adds to independence, because the directors of each reserve bank, who are not political appointees, provide a regional cross-section of interests, including depository institutions, nonfinancial businesses, labor, and the public.
The Fed is structured to be self-sufficient in the sense that it meets its operation expenses primarily from the interest earnings on its portfolio of securities. Therefore, it is independent of Congressional decisions about funding. Even though the Fed is independent of Congressional funding and administrative control, it is ultimately accountable to Congress and comes under government audit and review. The Chairman, other governors, and Reserve Bank Presidents report regularly to the Congress on monetary policy, and a variety of other issues, and meet with senior Administration officials to discuss the Federal Reserves and the federal governments economic programs (World 67). Within the Fed, the Federal Open Market Committee, or FOMC, has the primary responsibility for conducting monetary policy. The FOMC meets in Washington eight times a year and has twelve members: the seven members of the Board of Governors, the President of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and four of the other Reserve Bank Presidents, who serve in rotation. The remaining Reserve Bank Presidents contribute to the committees discussions and deliberations.
In addition, the directors of each Reserve Bank contribute to monetary policy by making recommendations about the appropriate discount rate, which are subject to final approval by the Governors. The goals of US Monetary Policy according to the Federal Reserve Act states that they are to promote maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates. The goals of monetary policy are inconsistent. The belief that a 4% unemployment rate and stable prices are inconsistent is shaped by the widely accepted natural rate hypothesis. It argues that monetary policy has no effect on the economys long-run equilibrium unemployment rate, which is often called the natural rate of unemployment.
The reason is that, in the long run, unemployment depends on so-called real factors such as technology and peoples preferences for saving, risk, and work effort; these factors are beyond the reach of monetary policy. Most current estimates place the natural rate of unemployment in the range 5.75% and 6.75%. Consistent attempts to expand the economy beyond its potential for production will result in higher and higher inflation, while ultimately failing to produce lower average unemployment. Therefore, most economists would argue that there are no long-term gains from consistently pursuing expansionary policies. The crowding out of investment is traced to the failure of monetary policy (Eisner 59). Although there are some negatives with monetary policy, it can determine the economys average rate of inflation in the long run.
That is important for the economy, because high inflation can hinder economic growth in a couple of ways. It adds an inflation risk premium to long-term interest rates and it complicates the planning and contracting by business and labor that are so essential to capital formation. High inflation also hinders economic growth in other ways. For example, because the tax system isnt indexed to inflation, high inflation helps and hurts different sectors of the economy. In addition, it makes people spend their time hedging against inflation instead of pursuing more productive activities.
Because the Fed can determine the economys average rate of inflation, some commentators and some members of Congress have emphasized the need to define the goals of monetary policy in terms of price stability, which is achievable. But the Fed, like most central banks, cares about both inflation and measures of the short-run performance of the economy. However, pursuing multiple goals can create conflicts for policy. One kind of conflict involves deciding which goal should take precedence at any point in time. Another kind of conflict is the potential for pressure from the political arena.
The Fed is somewhat insulated from the pressure of politics by its independence, which allows it to achieve a more appropriate balance between short-run and long-run objectives. The Fed will not use monetary policy to help a region in a recession. Often enough, some state or region is going through a recessi …