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Monetary policy: why money matters and interest rates don't

  • Daniel L. Thornton

Monetary policy is now conducted by targeting a very short-term interest rate. The Fed and other central banks attempt to control the price level by manipulating aggregate demand by adjusting their interest rate target. At best, money's role is tertiary. Indeed, a few prominent and influential macroeconomists have suggested that money is not essential, or perhaps is irrelevant, for the determination of the price level. Against this backdrop, this paper argues that the essential feature of money is that it guarantees "final payment" and is essential for price determination. It also suggests that the ability of the central banks to control interest rates may be greatly exaggerated.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2008-011.

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Date of creation: 2008
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2008-011
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  1. Douglas Staiger & James H. Stock & Mark W. Watson, 1997. "The NAIRU, Unemployment and Monetary Policy," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 11(1), pages 33-49, Winter.
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  8. Seth Carpenter & Selva Demiralp, 2004. "The liquidity effect in the federal funds market: evidence from daily open market operations," Finance and Economics Discussion Series 2004-61, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
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  10. Sarno, Lucio & Thornton, Daniel L & Valente, Giorgio, 2005. "The Empirical Failure of the Expectations Hypothesis of the Term Structure of Bond Yields," CEPR Discussion Papers 5259, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Woodford, Michael, 2000. "Monetary Policy in a World without Money," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 229-60, July.
  12. Thornton, Daniel L., 2008. "The daily and policy-relevant liquidity effects," Working Paper Series 0984, European Central Bank.
  13. Forni, Mario & Lippi, Marco, 1997. "Aggregation and the Microfoundations of Dynamic Macroeconomics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198288008, March.
  14. Daniel L. Thornton, 2004. "Tests of the expectations hypothesis: resolving the anomalies when the short-term rate is the federal funds rate," Working Papers 2000-003, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  15. John H. Cochrane & Monika Piazzesi, 2005. "Bond Risk Premia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(1), pages 138-160, March.
  16. Pasquale Della Corte & Lucio Sarno & Daniel L. Thornton, 2007. "The expectation hypothesis of the term structure of very short-term rates: statistical tests and economic value," Working Papers 2006-061, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  17. Benjamin M. Friedman, 2000. "Decoupling at the Margin: The Threat to Monetary Policy from the Electronic Revolution in Banking," NBER Working Papers 7955, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  18. Hamilton, James D, 1996. "The Daily Market for Federal Funds," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 104(1), pages 26-56, February.
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  20. Reynard, Samuel, 2007. "Maintaining low inflation: money, interest rates, and policy stance," Working Paper Series 0756, European Central Bank.
  21. Edward Nelson, 2004. "The Great Inflation of the seventies: what really happened?," Working Papers 2004-001, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  22. Daniel L. Thornton, 2005. "When did the FOMC begin targeting the federal funds rate? what the verbatim transcripts tell us," Working Papers 2004-015, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  23. Michael Woodford, 2001. "Monetary policy in the information economy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 297-370.
  24. Bennett T. McCallum & Marvin S. Goodfriend, 1987. "Money: Theoretical Analysis of the Demand for Money," NBER Working Papers 2157, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  25. Daniel L. Thornton, 2008. "The unusual behavior of the federal funds and 10-year Treasury rates: a conundrum or Goodhart’s Law?," Working Papers 2007-039, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  26. Campbell, John Y & Shiller, Robert J, 1991. "Yield Spreads and Interest Rate Movements: A Bird's Eye View," Review of Economic Studies, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 58(3), pages 495-514, May.
  27. David Laidler, 2003. "Monetary Policy without Money: Hamlet without the Ghost," UWO Department of Economics Working Papers 20037, University of Western Ontario, Department of Economics.
  28. Thornton, Daniel L., 2001. "The Federal Reserve's operating procedure, nonborrowed reserves, borrowed reserves and the liquidity effect," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 25(9), pages 1717-1739, September.
  29. Rolnick, Arthur J & Weber, Warren E, 1983. "New Evidence on the Free Banking Era," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 73(5), pages 1080-91, December.
  30. William Poole & Robert H & Rasche & Daniel L. Thornton, 2002. "Market anticipations of monetary policy actions," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 65-94.
  31. Roy Cromb & Emilio Fernandez-Corugedo, 2004. "Long-term interest rates, wealth and consumption," Bank of England working papers 243, Bank of England.
  32. Daniel L. Thornton, 2005. "A new federal funds rate target series: September 27, 1982, - December 31, 1993," Working Papers 2005-032, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  33. Daniel L. Thornton, 2001. "Identifying the liquidity effect at the daily frequency," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jul, pages 59-82.
  34. Daniel L. Thornton, 2000. "Money in a theory of exchange," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 35-60.
  35. Michael D. Bauer & Glenn D. Rudebusch, 2011. "The signaling channel for Federal Reserve bond purchases," Working Paper Series 2011-21, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  36. Mervyn King, 1999. "Challenges for monetary policy : new and old," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 11-57.
  37. Thornton, Daniel L., 2004. "The Fed and short-term rates: Is it open market operations, open mouth operations or interest rate smoothing?," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 28(3), pages 475-498, March.
  38. Bennett T. McCallum, 1982. "Price Level Determinacy with an Interest Rate Policy Rule and Rational Expectations," NBER Working Papers 0559, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  39. Massimo Guidolin & Daniel L. Thornton, 2010. "Predictions of short-term rates and the expectations hypothesis," Working Papers 2010-013, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  40. Friedman, Benjamin M, 2000. "Decoupling at the Margin: The Threat to Monetary Policy from the Electronic Revolution in Banking," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 3(2), pages 261-72, July.
  41. Jeremy M. Piger & Robert H. Rasche, 2008. "Inflation: Do Expectations Trump the Gap?," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 4(4), pages 85-116, December.
  42. Charles Goodhart, 2000. "Can Central Banking Survive the IT Revolution?," FMG Special Papers sp125, Financial Markets Group.
  43. Daniel L. Thornton, 2012. "How did we get to inflation targeting and where do we need to go to now? a perspective from the U.S. experience," Review, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, issue Jan, pages 65-81.
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