Federal Reserve: Unconventional Monetary Policy Options *

By Labonte, Marc | Current Politics and Economics of the United States, Canada and Mexico, October 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Federal Reserve: Unconventional Monetary Policy Options *


Labonte, Marc, Current Politics and Economics of the United States, Canada and Mexico


Introduction

In the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2007-2008, the Federal Reserve (Fed) reduced the federal funds rate to a range of 0% to 0.25% by December 2008, exhausting its conventional monetary tool.1 With the economy still exhibiting large amounts of slack and recovery prospects weak, the Fed experimented over the next few years with unconventional policies in an attempt to revive the economy. These policies were pursued after the acute crisis phase, during which the Fed created a series of emergency liquidity facilities; a discussion of these facilities is beyond the scope of this report.2 The dates and nature of the policy announcements are outlined in Table 1.

Although the policies had never been used before the crisis, they had been considered for some time. In a 2004 working paper, Ben Bernanke, then-Fed governor, and co-authors found "some grounds for optimism about the likely efficacy of non-standard policies" that central banks could use for stimulating the economy when the short-term policy interest rate (the federal funds rate, in the United States) has hit the "zero lower bound" and cannot be reduced to provide further stimulus. Although the zero-bound problem had been present in Japan for some time when the paper was published, "for more than a few generations of economists, [it] seemed to be a relic of the Depression era" in the United States. The paper grouped the non-standard policies into three classes:

(1) using communications policies to shape public expectations about the future course of interest rates; (2) increasing the size of the central bank's balance sheet, or "quantitative easing"; and (3) changing the composition of the central bank's balance sheet through, for example, the targeted purchases of long-term bonds as a means of reducing the longterm interest rate.4

In the aftermath of the crisis, the Fed under Bernanke would use all three types of policies. For communication policies, the Fed introduced "forward guidance," first announcing in December 2008 that it would likely keep the federal funds rate "exceptionally low...for some time." This eventually evolved into a specific time horizon for how long rates would be kept "exceptionally low." In its October 2012 statement, it anticipated that the federal funds rate would be exceptionally low "at least through mid-2015." In December 2012, the Fed moved away from a time horizon for exceptionally low rates, instead tying the duration of exceptionally low rates to an economic threshold, namely as long as the unemployment rate remains above 6.5% and inflation and inflation expectations remain low. For increasing the balance sheet, the Fed has undertaken three rounds of large-scale asset purchases, popularly known as "quantitative easing" (QE).5 By purchasing Treasury securities, agency debt securities, and agency mortgage-backed securities (MBS), the Fed has increased the size of its balance sheet from less than $0.9 trillion in 2007 to about $4 trillion at the end of 2013.6 For changing the composition of the balance sheet, the Fed has undertaken the "Maturity Extension Program," under which the Fed purchased $667 billion in long-term U.S. Treasury securities, and sold an equivalent amount of short-term Treasury securities.

Since enactment of the mandate, Congress has largely deferred to the Fed on how to achieve the goals of maximum employment and stable prices, and therefore has had little input in the Fed's decisions to pursue unconventional policies. It maintains oversight responsibilities, however, and Congress has been interested in whether the Fed's unconventional policies have been consistent with its mandate.

The remainder of this report analyzes the economic effects of these programs, the current economic context in which these policies have been adopted, policy alternatives that the Fed has not pursued to date and their potential effects, potential legislative options for restricting the Fed's pursuit of unconventional monetary policy, and issues surrounding the eventual "exit strategy" from unconventional policy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Federal Reserve: Unconventional Monetary Policy Options *
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.