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 nation's central bank, and it influences demand mainly by raising and lowering short-term interest rates.
The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) is the nation's 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 country's money supply should be independent of the people who frame the government's 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 bank's 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 Reserve's and the federal government's 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 committee's 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 economy's 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 people's 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