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Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City
Economic Review
The changing U.S. financial system : some implications for the monetary transmission mechanism
Gordon H. Sellon

An important part of monetary policy is the monetary transmission mechanism, the process by which monetary policy actions influence the economy. While the transmission mechanism involves a number of channels, including exchange rates, bank credit, and asset prices, most economists consider interest rates to be the principal avenue by which monetary policy affects economic activity.> In recent decades, significant changes in the structure of financial markets and institutions in the United States may have altered the interest rate channel. Key developments include the deregulation of the financial system, the growth of capital markets as an alternative to bank intermediation, increased competition among intermediaries both domestically and internationally, and greater transparency by the Federal Reserve about monetary policy operations. These changes may have altered both the timing and magnitude of the response of interest rates to monetary policy. Indeed, the failure of long-term interest rates to respond to monetary policy easing during the past year has been cited in the financial press as an indication that monetary policy may now have less influence on interest rates than in the past.> Sellon examines how the changing financial system has affected the interest rate channel of monetary policy. He finds that the response of interest rates to monetary policy, rather than diminishing, has actually increased considerably over time. Indeed, bank lending rates on consumer and business loans and mortgage rates now appear to exhibit a much stronger and faster response to monetary policy actions than in the past. Moreover, institutional changes, such as the increased use of variable-rate loans and the availability of low-cost mortgage refinancing, may have altered the transmission mechanism, potentially broadening the influence of monetary policy on the economy.

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Gordon H. Sellon, "The changing U.S. financial system : some implications for the monetary transmission mechanism" , Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Economic Review, issue Q I, pages 5-35, 2002.
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Keywords: Monetary policy ; Financial markets ; Interest rates
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