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  1. 1. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall R. GLENN HUBBARD ANTHONY PATRICK O’BRIEN Money, Banking, and the Financial System
  2. 2. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall The Federal Reserve and Central Banking C H A P T E R 13 LEARNING OBJECTIVES After studying this chapter, you should be able to: 13.1 13.2 13.3 Explain why the Federal Reserve System is structured the way it is Explain the key issues involved in the Fed’s operations Discuss the issues involved with central bank independence outside the United States
  3. 3. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall IS THE FED THE GIANT OF THE FINANCIAL SYSTEM? •In May 2010, Congress took the unusual step of ordering an audit of the Fed’s emergency lending programs. •The financial crisis highlighted the importance of the Fed and the strong influence its chairman has on the economy. •But should the unelected head of the central bank have so much power? Economists and policymakers have debated this question for decades. •An Inside Look at Policy on page 404 discusses how recent nominees to the Fed’s Board of Governors support the Fed’s expanded role in the financial system. C H A P T E R 13 The Federal Reserve and Central Banking
  4. 4. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 4 of 43 Key Issue and Question Issue: Following the financial crisis, Congress debated reducing the independence of the Federal Reserve. Question: Should Congress and the president be given greater authority over the Federal Reserve?
  5. 5. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 5 of 43 13.1 Learning Objective Explain why the Federal Reserve System is structured the way it is.
  6. 6. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 6 of 43 The Structure of the Federal Reserve System • The Bank of the United States was created to function as a central bank, but the Bank rapidly accumulated enemies. Local banks resented the Bank’s supervision of their operations. • Congress granted the Bank a 20-year charter in 1791, but without enough Congressional support to renew its charter, the Bank ceased operations in 1811. • In 1816, Congress established the Second Bank of the United States, also under a 20-year charter. The Second Bank encountered many of the same controversies as the First Bank and its charter expired in 1836. • Severe nationwide financial panics in 1873, 1884, 1893, and 1907—and accompanying economic downturns—raised fears in Congress that the U.S. financial system was unstable without a central bank. Finally, the Federal Reserve Act that created the Federal Reserve System became law in 1913. Creation of the Federal Reserve System
  7. 7. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 7 of 43 Federal Reserve System The central bank of the United States. • Economic power within the Federal Reserve System is divided in three ways: 1. Among bankers and business interests 2. Among states and regions 3. Between government and the private sector • Four groups within the system were empowered to perform separate duties: 1. The Federal Reserve Banks 2. Private commercial member banks 3. The Board of Governors 4. The Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) • All national banks—commercial banks with charters from the federal government—were required to join the system. State banks—commercial banks with charters from state governments—were given the option to join. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  8. 8. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 8 of 43 Federal Reserve Banks Federal Reserve Bank A district bank of the Federal Reserve system that, among other activities, conducts discount lending. Figure 13.1 Federal Reserve Districts Division of the United States into 12 Federal Reserve districts was designed so that each district contained a mixture of urban and rural areas and manufacturing, agricultural, and service industries. Note that Hawaii and Alaska are included in the Twelfth Federal Reserve District.•
  9. 9. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 9 of 43 Making the Connection St. Louis and Kansas City? What Explains the Locations of the District Banks? • When the Fed was created, district banks were intended to have much more independence than they have today. • The Reserve Bank Organizing Committee was given the task of determining district boundaries, which remain unchanged since 1914. • Were the locations of Federal Reserve Banks influenced by politics? There was agreement about six of the cities: Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and San Francisco. • A study about this controversy concluded that economic variables could correctly predict the cities chosen, while political factors could not. So, while it may seem odd today for Missouri to have two Federal Reserve Banks, it appears to have made economic sense in 1914. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  10. 10. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 10 of 43 • Who owns the Federal Reserve banks? • When banks join the Federal Reserve System, they are required to buy stock in their District Bank. So, in principle, the member banks own the District Bank. • To prevent one constituency from exploiting the central bank’s economic power at the expense of another, Congress restricted the composition of the boards of directors of the District Banks. • The directors represent the interests of three groups: 1. Banks 2. Businesses 3. The general public • Member banks elect three bankers (Class A directors) and three leaders in industry, commerce, and agriculture (Class B directors). The Fed’s Board of Governors appoints three public interest directors (Class C directors). The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  11. 11. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 11 of 43 The 12 Federal Reserve District Banks support the Fed’s roles in the payments system, control of the money supply, and financial regulation. Specifically, the District Banks: •Manage check clearing in the payments system •Manage currency in circulation by issuing new Federal Reserve notes and withdrawing damaged notes from circulation •Conduct discount lending by making and administering discount loans to banks within the district •Perform supervisory and regulatory functions such as examining state member banks and evaluating merger applications •Collecting and making available data on district business activities and publishing articles on monetary and banking topics written by professional economists employed by the banks •Serve on the Federal Open Market Committee, the Federal Reserve System’s chief monetary policy body The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  12. 12. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 12 of 43 • The Federal Reserve District Banks engage in monetary policy both directly (by making discount loans) and indirectly (through membership on Federal Reserve committees). • In recent decades, the discount rate has been set by the Board of Governors in Washington, DC, not by the District Banks. • The District Banks also influence policy through their representatives on the Federal Open Market Committee and on the Federal Advisory Council, a consultative body composed of district bankers. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  13. 13. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 13 of 43 • Currently, only about 16% of state banks and about one-third of all banks are members of the Federal Reserve System. • Historically, state banks often chose not to join because they saw membership as costly. Banks could also avoid the Fed’s reserve requirements. The Fed did not pay interest on required reserves, so banks were losing the interest they could have earned by lending the funds. • The opportunity cost of being a member of the Fed increased during the 1960s and 1970s as nominal interest rates rose, and fewer state banks elected to become or remain members. • The Fed argued that declining bank membership eroded its ability to control the money supply and urged Congress to compel all commercial banks to join the Federal Reserve System. • Congress has not yet legislated such a requirement, but the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act (DIDMCA) of 1980 required that all banks maintain reserve deposits with the Fed on the same terms. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System Member Banks
  14. 14. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 14 of 43 Solved Problem 13.1 How Costly Are Reserve Requirements to Banks? Suppose that Wells Fargo pays a 3% annual interest rate on checking account balances, while having to meet a reserve requirement of 10%. Assume that the Fed pays Wells Fargo an interest rate of 0.25% on its holdings of reserves and that Wells Fargo can earn 6% on its loans and other investments. a. How do reserve requirements affect the amount that Wells Fargo can earn on $1,000 in checking account deposits? Ignore any costs Wells Fargo incurs on the deposits other than the interest it pays to depositors. b. Is the opportunity cost to banks of reserve requirements likely to be higher during a recession or during an economic expansion? Briefly explain. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  15. 15. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 15 of 43 Solved Problem Step 2 Answer part (a) by calculating the effective cost of funds to Wells Fargo. With a 10% reserve requirement, Wells Fargo must hold $100 of a $1,000 checking account deposit in reserves with the Fed, on which it receives an interest rate of 0.25%. The bank can invest the remaining $900. So, it will earn ($900 x 0.06) + ($100 x 0.0025 = $0.25) = $54.00 + $0.25 = $54.25. If the bank did not need to hold reserves against the deposit, it would earn $1,000 x 0.06 = $60. So, the reserve requirement is reducing Well Fargo’s return by $5.75, or $5.75/$1,000 = 0.575%. Step 3 Answer part (b) by explaining how the reserve tax varies over the business cycle. The higher the interest rate banks can earn on their loans and other investments, the higher the opportunity cost of having to hold reserves at the Fed that are earning a low interest rate. As we saw in Chapter 4, interest rates tend to fall during economic recessions and rise during economic expansions. So, the opportunity cost to banks of reserve requirements is likely to be higher during economic expansions than during economic recessions. Solving the Problem Step 1 Review the chapter material. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System Solved Problem 13.1 How Costly Are Reserve Requirements to Banks?
  16. 16. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 16 of 43 • The Board of Governors is headquartered in Washington, DC. Its members are confirmed by the U.S. Senate. • Members serve 14-year, nonrenewable terms. The terms are staggered so it is unlikely that one U.S. president will be able to appoint a full Board of Governors. No Federal Reserve District can be represented by more than one member on the Board of Governors. • The president chooses one member of the Board of Governors to serve as chairman. Chairmen serve four-year terms and may be reappointed. Board members are professional economists from business, government, and academia. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System Board of Governors Board of Governors The governing board of the Federal Reserve System, consisting of seven members appointed by the president of the United States.
  17. 17. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 17 of 43 The Board of Governors: •Administers monetary policy; it has authority to determine reserve requirements and effectively sets the discount rate charged on loans to banks •Influences the setting of guidelines for open market operations •Informally influences national and international economic policy decisions •Advises the president and testifies before Congress on economic matters, such as economic growth, inflation, and unemployment •Is responsible for some financial regulation. It sets margin requirements and determines permissible activities for bank holding companies •Exercises administrative controls over individual Federal Reserve banks The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  18. 18. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 18 of 43 • Members of the FOMC are the chairman of the Board of Governors, the other Fed governors, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, and the presidents of four of the other 11 Federal Reserve Banks (who serve on a rotating basis). • The chairman of the Board of Governors serves as chairman of the FOMC. Only five Federal Reserve bank presidents are voting members of the FOMC, but all 12 attend meetings and participate in discussions. • The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York is always a voting member. The committee meets in Washington, DC, eight times each year. • Prior to each meeting, FOMC members access data from three books: 1. The “Greenbook,” which contains a national economic forecast for the next two years 2. The “Bluebook,” which contains projections for monetary aggregates 3. The “Beige Book,” which contains summaries of economic conditions in each district. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System The Federal Open Market Committee Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) The 12-member Federal Reserve committee that directs open market operations.
  19. 19. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 19 of 43 • The FOMC sets a target for the federal funds rate. To reach its target for the federal funds rate, the Fed needs to adjust the level of reserves in the banking system by buying and selling Treasury securities. • The FOMC doesn’t itself buy or sell securities for the Fed’s account. Instead, it issues a directive to the Fed’s trading desk at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. There, the manager for domestic open market operations carries out the directive by buying and selling Treasury securities with primary dealers, which are private financial firms that deal in these securities. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  20. 20. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 20 of 43 Making the Connection On the Board of Governors, Four Can Be a Crowd • In 1976, Congress passed the Government in the Sunshine Act, which requires most federal government agencies to give public notice before a meeting. • If four or more members of the Board of Governors meet to consider a policy action, it is considered an official meeting under the act and cannot be held without prior public notice. • During the financial crisis of 2007–2009, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke instituted a series of policy actions, some of which were unprecedented. • Given that Bernanke needed to make decisions rapidly, the requirement of prior public notice made it infeasible for him to meet with more than two other members. As a result, Bernanke relied on an informal group of advisers consisting of Board of Governors members Donald Kohn and Kevin Warsh and New York District Bank president Timothy Geithner. Geithner was a member of the FOMC but not of the Board of Governors. • The “four musketeers,” as they came to be called, were the key policymaking body at the Fed for the duration of the crisis. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System
  21. 21. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 21 of 43 • During its first 20 years, the decentralized District Bank system could not adequately respond to national economic and financial disturbances. • The Banking Acts of 1933 and 1935 centralized the Board of Governors’ control of the system, giving it a majority of seats (7 of 12) on the FOMC. In addition, the secretary of the Treasury and the comptroller of the currency were removed from the Board of Governors, thereby increasing the Fed’s independence. • The informal power structure within the Fed is more concentrated than the formal power structure (see Figure 13.2). The Fed chairman wields the most power in the system. The distinction between ownership and control is clear: Member banks own shares of stock, but this ownership confers none of the rights that are typically granted to shareholders of private corporations. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System Power and Authority within the Fed
  22. 22. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 22 of 43 The Structure of the Federal Reserve System Figure 13.2 Organization and Authority of the Federal Reserve System The Federal Reserve Act of 1913 established the Federal Reserve System and incorporated a series of checks and balances into the system. However, informal power within the Fed is more concentrated in the hands of the chairman of the Board of Governors than the formal structure suggests.•
  23. 23. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 23 of 43 The following are the main provisions of the bill that affect the Fed: • The Fed was made a member of the new Financial Stability Oversight Council, which was charged with preventing the failure of large financial firms that may threaten the stability of the system. • One member of the Board of Governors, designated as the vice chairman for supervision, will coordinate the Fed’s regulatory actions. • The Government Accountability Office (GAO) was ordered to perform an audit of the emergency lending programs the Fed carried out during the crisis. • Class A directors will no longer participate in elections of the bank presidents. • The Fed was ordered to disclose the names of financial institutions to which it makes loans and with which it buys and sells securities. • A new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau was established at the Fed to write rules concerning consumer protection that will apply to all financial firms. The Structure of the Federal Reserve System Changes to the Fed Under the Dodd-Frank Act Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Legislation passed during 2010 that was intended to reform regulation of the financial system.
  24. 24. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 24 of 43 13.2 Learning Objective Explain the key issues involved in the Fed’s operations.
  25. 25. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 25 of 43 • The structure of the Fed is designed to operate largely independently of external pressures from the president, Congress, the banking industry, and business groups. • Not only is the Fed exempt from having to ask Congress for the funds to operate, but it is also a profitable organization. • Most of the Fed’s earnings come from interest on the securities it holds, interest on discount loans, and fees for check-clearing and other services. • In 2009, the Fed’s net income exceeded $50 billion—substantial profits when compared with even the largest U.S. corporations. • But the Fed isn’t completely insulated from external pressure: • The president can exercise control over the membership, and may appoint a new chairman every four years. • The U.S. Constitution does not specifically mandate a central bank, so Congress can amend the Fed’s charter and powers—or even abolish it entirely. Nevertheless, in practice, Congress has not limited the Fed’s ability to conduct an independent monetary policy. How the Fed Operates Handling External Pressure
  26. 26. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 26 of 43 • Elected officials lack formal control of monetary policy, which has occasionally resulted in conflicts between the Fed and the president, who is often represented by the secretary of the Treasury. • During World War II, the Roosevelt administration increased its control over the Fed. To help finance wartime budget deficits, the Fed agreed to hold interest rates on Treasury securities at low levels. • When the war ended in 1945, the Treasury wanted to continue this policy, but the Fed didn’t agree. The Fed’s concern was inflation: Larger purchases of Treasury securities by the Fed could increase the growth rate of the money supply. • On March 4, 1951, the federal government formally abandoned the wartime policy of fixing the interest rates on Treasury securities with the Treasury– Federal Reserve Accord. This accord was important in reestablishing the ability of the Fed to operate independently of the Treasury. How the Fed Operates Examples of Conflict between the Fed and the Treasury
  27. 27. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 27 of 43 • President Ronald Reagan and Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker argued over who was at fault for the severe economic recession of the early 1980s. • Similar conflicts occurred during the administrations of George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, with the Treasury frequently pushing for lower short-term interest rates than the Fed considered advisable. • During the financial crisis of 2007–2009, the Fed worked closely with the Treasury. The frequent consultations between Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and then Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson during the height of the crisis in the fall of 2008 were a break with tradition. If such close collaboration were to continue, it would raise the question of whether the Fed would be able to pursue policies independent of those of the administration in power. • A proposal in early 2010 that the president of the United States appoint the presidents of the District Banks raised further concerns about Fed independence. In the end, the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act did little to undermine Fed independence. How the Fed Operates
  28. 28. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 28 of 43 The Public Interest View How the Fed Operates Factors That Motivate the Fed Public interest view A theory of central bank decision making that holds that officials act in the best interest of the public. • The Fed seeks to achieve economic goals that are in the public interest. Examples of such goals are price stability, high employment, and economic growth. • Does the evidence support the public interest view of the Fed? Some economists argue that it doesn’t appear to with regard to price stability. The record of persistent inflation since World War II undercuts the claim that the Fed has emphasized price stability. Other economists argue that the Fed’s record with respect to price stability is relatively good. • There are similar debates over the Fed’s contributions to the stability of other economic indicators.
  29. 29. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 29 of 43 The Principal–Agent View How the Fed Operates Principal–agent view A theory of central bank decision making that holds that officials maximize their personal well-being rather than that of the general public. • This view predicts that the Fed acts to increase its power, influence, and prestige as an organization, subject to constraints placed on it by principals such as the president and Congress. • If the principal–agent view holds, we would expect the Fed to fight to maintain its autonomy—which it does. The Fed has frequently resisted congressional attempts to control its budget. • The Fed successfully lobbied Congress to strip most of the provisions that would have reduced its independence from the final version of the Dodd-Frank Act.
  30. 30. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 30 of 43 How the Fed Operates • According to the principal–agent view, the Fed could manage monetary policy to assist the reelection efforts of presidential incumbents who are unlikely to limit its power. • The result would be a political business cycle, in which the Fed would try to lower interest rates to stimulate economic activity before an election to earn favor with the incumbent party running for reelection. • The facts for the United States don’t generally support the political business cycle theory. Nevertheless, the president’s desires may subtly influence Fed policy. • One study found a close correlation between changes in monetary policy and signals from the administration that they desired a policy change.
  31. 31. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 31 of 43 Arguments for Fed Independence How the Fed Operates Fed Independence • The main argument for Fed independence is that monetary policy—which affects inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, and economic growth—is too important and technical to be determined by politicians. • Because of the frequency of elections, politicians may be shortsighted, concerned with short-term benefits without regard for potential long-term costs. • The public may well prefer that the experts at the Fed, rather than politicians, make monetary policy decisions. • Another argument for Fed independence is that complete control of the Fed by elected officials increases the likelihood of political business cycle fluctuations in the money supply.
  32. 32. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 32 of 43 Arguments against Fed Independence How the Fed Operates • The importance of monetary policy for the economy is also the main argument against central bank independence. • In a democracy, elected officials should make public policy. The public could hold elected officials responsible for perceived monetary policy problems. • If the central bank was controlled by elected officials, monetary policy could be coordinated and integrated with government taxing and spending policies. • Some critics note that the Fed failed to assist the banking system during the economic contraction of the early 1930s. Also, Fed policies were too inflationary in the 1960s and 1970s. Finally, some analysts believe that the Fed ignored the housing market bubble in the early 2000s and then moved too slowly to contain the effects on the financial system when the bubble finally burst in 2006.
  33. 33. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 33 of 43 Making the Connection End the Fed? • The U.S. Constitution does not explicitly give the federal government the authority to establish a central bank. • Opponents of the First and Second Banks saw them as a means of unconstitutionally exerting federal power over the states. • The standard argument in favor of the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve is that Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution states that Congress has the power “To coin money [and] regulate the value thereof. . .” Congress delegated this power to the Federal Reserve under the Federal Reserve Act. • Modern arguments against the Fed have been mostly based on whether an independent central bank is the best means of carrying out monetary policy. During 2008, Congressman Ron Paul ran for the Republican nomination for president and argued forcefully that the Federal Reserve should be abolished. • Given the Fed’s power and the fact that its officials are unelected, its role will remain a subject of debate among economists and policymakers. How the Fed Operates
  34. 34. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 34 of 43 13.3 Learning Objective Discuss the issues involved with central bank independence outside the United States.
  35. 35. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 35 of 43 • The degree of central bank independence varies greatly from country to country. • In the United States, board members serve longer terms than in other countries, implying nominally greater independence. In other countries, the head of the central bank serves a longer term than the chairman in the United States, implying somewhat greater political control in the United States. • An independent central bank is free to pursue its goals without direct interference from government officials and legislators. An independent central bank can more freely focus on keeping inflation low. • The European Central Bank is, in principle, extremely independent, whereas the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England traditionally have been less independent. By the late 1990s, both had become more independent and more focused on price stability. Central Bank Independence outside the United States
  36. 36. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 36 of 43 • The Bank of England, founded in 1694 and one of the world’s oldest central banks, obtained the power to set interest rates independently in 1997. • The Bank of Japan Law, in force since April 1998, gives the Policy Board more autonomy to pursue price stability. • The Bank of Canada has an inflation target as a goal, which is set jointly by the Bank of Canada and the government. While the government has the final responsibility for monetary policy, the Bank of Canada has generally controlled it. • The push for central bank independence to pursue a goal of low inflation has increased in recent years. Indeed, in most of the industrialized world, central bank independence from the political process is gaining ground as the way to organize monetary authorities. Central Bank Independence outside the United States
  37. 37. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 37 of 43 • What conclusions should we draw from differences in central bank structure? • Many analysts believe that an independent central bank improves the economy’s performance by lowering inflation without raising output or employment fluctuations. • The most independent central banks had the lowest average rates of inflation during the 1970s and 1980s. • The central bank also must be able to set goals for which it can be held accountable. The leading example of such a goal is a target for inflation. • Central banks in Canada, Finland, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United Kingdom have official inflation targets, as does the European Central Bank. The U.S. Fed has only an informal inflation target. Central Bank Independence outside the United States
  38. 38. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 38 of 43 The European Central Bank • The European Central Bank (ECB) is charged with conducting monetary policy for the 16 countries that participate in the European Monetary Union, or Eurosystem, and use the euro as their common currency. • The ECB’s organization is similar to that of the U.S. Fed. The ECB’s executive board, chaired in 2010 by Jean-Claude Trichet who serves as president of the ECB, has six members who work exclusively for the bank. • Board members are appointed by the heads of state and government, based on the recommendation of the Council of Ministers of Economics and Finance, after consulting the European Parliament and the Governing Council of the ECB. • Executive board members serve nonrenewable eight-year terms. The governors of each of the member national central banks serve a term of at least five years. The long terms are designed to increase the political independence of the ECB. Central Bank Independence outside the United States
  39. 39. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 39 of 43 • In principle, the ECB has a high degree of overall independence, with a clear mandate to emphasize price stability, following the lead of the Bundesbank (Germany’s central bank). • Whether legal independence is enough to guarantee actual independence is another matter, however. National central banks have considerable power in the ECB. The governors of the European System of Central Banks (ESCB) hold a majority of votes in the ECB’s governing council. • While the ECB statute emphasizes price stability, countries have argued over the merits of expansionary or contractionary monetary policy. This conflict became particularly evident during the financial crisis of 2007–2009, when countries such as Greece, Spain, and Ireland urged that the ECB follow a more expansionary policy. Countries such as Germany that had fared better during the financial crisis were reluctant to see the ECB abandon its inflation target. Central Bank Independence outside the United States
  40. 40. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 40 of 43 The European Central Bank and the 2010 Sovereign Debt Crisis • The 2007-2009 financial crisis affected the 16 countries of the European Union to differing extents, but the individual countries were not able to pursue independent policies in response. • During the crisis, these countries also suffered from large government budget deficits. To finance the deficits, they issued bonds, or sovereign debt. A sovereign debt crisis ensued when the debt issued by Greece, Ireland, Spain, and Portugal came into question. • On May 10, 2010, the ECB intervened by buying 165 billion worth of bonds. ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet argued that the intervention was necessary to ensure that the affected governments would still be able to raise funds and to protect the solvency of European banks that had purchased large amounts of these government bonds. Central Bank Independence outside the United States
  41. 41. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 41 of 43 Answering the Key Question At the beginning of this chapter, we asked the question: “Should Congress and the president be given greater authority over the Federal Reserve?” Economists and policymakers have debated how independent the Fed should be from the rest of the government. In 1913, the Federal Reserve Act placed the secretary of the Treasury and the comptroller of the currency—both presidential appointees—on the Federal Reserve Board. In 1935, Congress removed these officials from the board to increase the Fed’s independence. During the debate over financial reform in 2010, Congress gave serious consideration to allowing the president to appoint the presidents of the 12 reserve banks, although this proposal was dropped from the final version of the Dodd-Frank Act. Given its importance in the financial system, it seems inevitable that economists and policymakers will continue to debate the merits of the Fed’s independence.
  42. 42. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 42 of 43 AN INSIDE LOOK AT POLICY U.S. Senate Questions Three Nominees to Fed’s Board of Governors NEW YORK TIMES, Fed Nominees Support Expanded Duties • As the U.S. Senate was nearing passage of a financial reform bill in 2010, the Senate Banking Committee heard testimony from three nominees to the Federal Reserve Board. • In their testimonies, Janet Yellen stated that job creation would be a high priority for monetary policy; Sarah Bloom Raskin expressed concern for the social costs of joblessness; and Peter Diamond commented on the relevance of behavioral economics in interpreting complicated financial events. • Christopher Dodd, chairman of the Banking Committee, said that the draft financial reform legislation called for removing much of the Fed’s authority in areas where it did not perform well during the financial crisis. But in the end, the Senate supported retaining and strengthening the Fed’s supervisory role. Key Points in the Article
  43. 43. © 2012 Pearson Education, Inc. Publishing as Prentice Hall 43 of 43 AN INSIDE LOOK AT POLICY In July 2010, when the Senate Banking Committee was drafting the reform bill to deal with the financial crisis, there were only four members of the Board of Governors, including the chairman, Ben Bernanke.

Hinweis der Redaktion

  • The original intent of the Federal Reserve Act was to give the central bank control over the amount of currency outstanding and the volume of loans—known as discount loans—to member banks under the lender-of-last-resort function.
    Over time, the Fed has expanded its role in the financial system.
  • Member banks receive fixed dividends of 6% on the shares of stock they own in the District Bank.

    Member banks enjoy few of the rights and privileges that shareholders ordinarily exercise.

    For much of the Federal Reserve System’s history, the nine directors of a Federal Reserve District Bank have elected the president of that bank, subject to approval by the Board of Governors. Under the Dodd- Frank Act, the Class A directors no longer participate in the election of bank presidents.
  • DIDMCA effectively blurred the distinction between member and nonmember banks and halted the decline in Fed membership.

    In October 2008, the Fed began paying banks an interest rate of 0.25% on reserves, which lowered the opportunity cost to banks of holding reserves.
  • Ben Bernanke was appointed chair in January 2006 by President George W. Bush and reappointed in January 2010 by President Barack Obama.

    Chairmen of the Board of Governors since World War II have come from various backgrounds, including Wall Street (William McChesney Martin), academia (Arthur Burns and Ben Bernanke), business (G.William Miller), public service (Paul Volcker), and economic forecasting (Alan Greenspan).
  • Monetary policy is used to influence the nation’s money supply and interest rates through open market operations, reserve requirements, and discount lending.
    Margin requirements refer to the proportion of the purchase price of securities that an investor must pay in cash rather than buy on credit.
    The new Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC), established by the Dodd-Frank Act in 2010 to regulate the financial system, includes the chairman of the Board of Governors.
  • During the financial crisis, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke needed to make decisions rapidly and to use new policy tools. As a result, the focus of monetary policy moved away from the FOMC. As more normal conditions return to the economy and financial system, the FOMC is likely to resume its previous importance.
  • The unintended consequence of the Sunshine Act requirements was to drastically limit the input of the other members of the Board of Governors into monetary policymaking.
  • For instance, Microsoft averaged about $20 billion in profits annually between 2006 and 2010, while IBM averaged about $14 billion during the same period. Unlike with these corporations, however, any income the Fed earns in excess of its expenses is transferred to the U.S. Treasury.
  • The federal courts have upheld the constitutionality of the Federal Reserve Act, notably in the 1929 case Raichle v. Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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