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Federal Reserve Policy and Bretton Woods
During the Bretton Woods era, balance-of-payments developments, gold losses, and exchange rate concerns had little influence on Federal Reserve monetary policy, even after 1958 when such issues became critical. The Federal Reserve could largely disregard international considerations because the U.S. Treasury instituted a number of stop-gap devices?the gold pool, the general agreement to borrow, capital restraints, sterilized foreign-exchange operations?to shore up the dollar and Bretton Woods. These, however, gave Federal Reserve policymakers the latitude to focus on domestic objectives and shifted responsibility for international developments to the Treasury. Removing the pressure of international considerations from Federal Reserve policy decisions made it easier for the Federal Reserve to pursue the inflationary policies of the late 1960s and 1970s that ultimately destroyed Bretton Woods. In the end, the Treasury?s stop-gap devices, which were intended to support Bretton Woods, contributed to its demise.
AUTHORS: Bordo, Michael D.; Humpage, Owen F.
Independent within—not of—Government: The Emergence of the Federal Reserve as a Modern Central Bank
Independence is the hallmark of modern central banks, but independence is a mutable and fragile concept, because the governments to whom central banks are ultimately responsible can have objectives that take precedence over price stability. This paper traces the Federal Reserve?s emergence as a modern central bank beginning with its abandonment of monetary policy for debt-management operations during the Second World War and through the controversies that led to the Treasury-Federal Reserve accord in 1951. The accord, however, did not end the Federal Reserve?s search for independence. After the accord, the Federal Reserve?s view of responsibilities "within" government led it to policies?even keel and foreign exchange operations?that complicated the System?s ability to conduct monetary policy.
AUTHORS: Humpage, Owen F.
Even Keel and the Great Inflation
Using IV-GMM techniques and real-time data, we estimate a forward looking, Taylor-type reaction function incorporating dummy variables for even-keel operations and a variable for foreign official pressures on the U.S. gold stock during the Great Inflation. We show that when the Federal Reserve undertook even-keel operations to assist U.S. Treasury security sales, the FOMC tended to delay monetary-policy adjustments and to inject small amounts of reserves into the banking system. The operations, however, did not contribute significantly to the Great Inflation, because they occurred during periods of both monetary ease and monetary tightness, at least in the FOMC?s view. Consequently, the average federal funds rate during months containing even-keel events was no different than the average federal funds rate in other months, suggesting that even keel had no effect on the thrust of monetary policy. We also show that prospective gold losses had no effect on the FOMC?s monetary-policy decisions in the 1960s and early 1970s.
AUTHORS: Mukherjee, Sanchita; Humpage, Owen F.
Federal Reserve policy and Bretton Woods
During the Bretton Woods era, balance-of-payments developments, gold losses, and exchange-rate concerns had little influence on Federal Reserve monetary policy, even after 1958 when such issues became critical. The Federal Reserve could largely disregard international considerations because the U.S. Treasury instituted a number of stopgap devices?the gold pool, the general agreement to borrow, capital restraints, sterilized foreign-exchange operations?to shore up the dollar and Bretton Woods. These, however, gave Federal Reserve policymakers the latitude to focus on the domestic objectives and shifted responsibility for international developments to the Treasury. Removing the pressure of international considerations from Federal Reserve policy decisions made it easier for the Federal Reserve to pursue the inflationary policies of the late 1960s and 1970s that ultimate destroyed Bretton Woods. In the end, the Treasury?s stopgap devices, which were intended to support Bretton Woods, contributed to its demise.
AUTHORS: Bordo, Michael D.; Humpage, Owen F.
The Second Era of Globalization is Not Yet Over:An Historical Perspective
The recent rise of populist anti-globalization political movements has led to concerns that the current wave of globalization that goes back to the 1870s may end in turmoil just like the first wave which ended after World War I. It is too soon to tell. The decline and then levelling off of trade and capital flows in recent years reflects the drastic decline in global real income during the Great Recession. Other factors at work include the slowdown in the growth rate of China and the reversal of the extended international supply chains developed in the 1990s, as well as increased financial regulation across the world after the crisis. This suggests either a pause in the pace of integration or more likely a slowing down, rather than a reversal.
AUTHORS: Bordo, Michael D.
Current Federal Reserve Policy Under the Lens of Economic History: A Review Essay
This review essay is intended as a critical review of Humpage (2015), and it expands on the issues raised in that volume. Federal Reserve Policy during the financial crisis, and in its aftermath are addressed, along with the relationship to historical experience in the U.S. and elsewhere in the world.
AUTHORS: Williamson, Stephen D.
A Comparison of Fed "Tightening" Episodes since the 1980s
Deciding to undertake a series of tightening actions present unique challenges for Federal Reserve policymakers. These challenges are both political and economic. Using a variety of economic and financial market metrics, this article examines how the economy and financial markets evolved in response to the five tightening episodes enacted by the FOMC since 1983. The primary aim is to compare the most-recent episode, from December 2015 to December 2018, with the previous four episodes. The findings in this article indicate that the current episode bears some resemblance to previous Fed tightening episodes, but also differs in several key dimensions. For example, in the first four episodes, the data show the FOMC was generally tightening into a strengthening economy with building price pressures. In contrast, in the fifth episode the FOMC began its tightening regime during a deceleration in economic activity and with headline and core inflation remaining well below the FOMC’s 2 percent inflation target. Moreover, both short- and long-term inflation expectations were drifting lower. These developments helped explain why there was a one-year gap between the first and second increases in the federal funds target rate in the most-recent episode. Another key difference is that in three of the first four episodes, the FOMC continued to tighten after the yield curve inverted; a recession then followed shortly thereafter. However, in the final episode, the FOMC ended its tightening policy about eight months before the yield curve inverted. It remains to be seen if a recession follows this inversion.
AUTHORS: Kliesen, Kevin L.
Bank integration and business volatility
We investigate how bank migration across state lines over the last quarter century has affected the size and covariance of business fluctuations within states. Starting with a two-state version of the unit banking model in Holmstrom and Tirole (1997), we conclude that the theoretical effect of integration on business cycle size is ambiguous, because some shocks are dampened by integration while others are amplified. Empirically, we find that integration diminishes employment growth fluctuations within states and decreases the deviations in employment growth across states. In other words, business cycles within states become smaller with integration but more alike. Our results for the United States bear on the financial convergence under way in Europe, where banks remain highly fragmented across nations.
AUTHORS: Morgan, Donald P.; Rime, Bertrand; Strahan, Philip E.
The early years of the primary dealer system
This paper presents a history of the primary dealer system from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. The paper focuses on two formal programs: the ?recognized? dealer program adopted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in 1939 and the ?qualified? dealer program adopted by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) in 1944 and abandoned in 1953. Following his selection as Manager of the System Open Market Account (SOMA) in 1939, Robert Rouse formalized the New York Fed?s system of ?recognized? dealer counterparties. Although the Bank typically dealt with recognized dealers, it also did business from time to time with other dealers; neither the original informal system nor the successor formal system made a sharp distinction between the two. The focus of monetary policy changed from managing reserves to keeping interest rates low following the entry of the United States into World War II. To support the new focus, the FOMC replaced the New York Fed?s recognized dealer program with its own program of ?qualified? dealers. The new format limited transactions for the SOMA to qualified dealers and imposed a variety of restrictions on those dealers. Following the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of March 1951, the FOMC returned stewardship of the primary dealer system to the New York Fed, with instructions to develop a more open system that contemplated transactions with anyone ?actually engaged in the business of dealing in Government securities.?
AUTHORS: Garbade, Kenneth D.
The pre-crisis monetary policy implementation framework
This article describes the Federal Reserve?s (?the Fed?s?) operating framework for monetary policy prior to the expansion of the Fed?s balance sheet during the financial crisis. To implement the Fed?s mandate of promoting price stability consistent with full employment, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sets a target for the overnight rate in the federal funds market, where banks trade reserve balances. In the pre-crisis framework, aggregate reserves were scarce, so relatively small changes in the level of reserves would affect rates in the fed funds market. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York?s Open Market Trading Desk (?the Desk?) forecasted the demand for and supply of reserves on a daily basis, and then conducted repo operations with primary dealers with the objective of supplying enough reserves to maintain the equilibrium rate close to its target. The Desk was successful in achieving this objective, since the fed funds rate generally did remain close to its target, and any deviations were quickly corrected. However, the pre-crisis operating procedures deployed by the Desk were more complex and opaque than alternative operating frameworks, required substantial intraday overdrafts from the Fed to meet banks? short-term payment needs, and had to be abandoned once the Fed?s balance sheet expanded in response to the financial crisis. Since the crisis, the Desk has successfully controlled the policy rate using a new framework, suggesting that effective monetary control may be achieved through different frameworks.
AUTHORS: Sarkar, Asani; McGowan, John; Kroeger, Alexander