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Flexible Exchange Rates, Fed Behavior, and Demand Constrained Growth in the USA

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  • L. Randall Wray

Abstract

This paper examines Chairman Greenspan's recent claim that central bankers around the world have been operating 'as if' monetary policy were constrained by gold that backs up reserves. The paper argues, instead, that central banks in flexible exchange rate regimes operate with an overnight interest rate target, which eliminates the possibility of discretionary control over bank reserves. In other words, central banks cannot behave as if reserves are constrained by gold. The paper will argue that fiscal policy, however, has been operated as if it faced financing constraints. For this reason, growth has been demand-constrained by austere fiscal policy. However, the perceived constraints on fiscal policy are not appropriate to a sovereign government operating with a floating currency. The paper concludes by arguing that adoption of a floating rate system from the mid 1970s (what Greenspan disparagingly calls a fiat money standard) has made it possible to operate fiscal policy without these constraints—that is, to take advantage of the possibilities offered to the issuer of a floating currency. This would include maintenance of full employment at home while enjoying the benefits of a trade deficit.

Suggested Citation

  • L. Randall Wray, 2006. "Flexible Exchange Rates, Fed Behavior, and Demand Constrained Growth in the USA," International Review of Applied Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 20(3), pages 375-389.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:irapec:v:20:y:2006:i:3:p:375-389
    DOI: 10.1080/02692170600736193
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Laurence H. Meyer, 2001. "Does money matter?," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue May, pages 1-16.
    2. Tony Aspromourgos, 2000. "Is an Employer-of-Last-Resort Policy Sustainable? A review article," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 12(2), pages 141-155.
    3. A. P. Thirlwall, 1983. "A Plain Man’s Guide to Kaldor’s Growth Laws," Journal of Post Keynesian Economics, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 5(3), pages 345-358, March.
    4. Marc-Andre Pigeon & L. Randall Wray, 1999. "Demand Constraints and Economic Growth," Economics Working Paper Archive wp_269, Levy Economics Institute.
    5. L. Randall Wray, 2004. "The Fed and the New Monetary Consensus: The Case for Rate Hikes, Part Two," Economics Public Policy Brief Archive ppb_80, Levy Economics Institute.
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