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Monetary policy: why money matters, and interest rates don’t

  • Daniel L. Thornton

Since the late 1980s the Fed has implemented monetary policy by adjusting its target for the overnight federal funds rate. Money’s role in monetary policy has been tertiary, at best. Indeed, several influential economists have suggested that money is irrelevant for monetary policy. They suggest that central banks can control inflation by (i) controlling a very short-term nominal interest rate and (ii) influencing financial market participants’ expectation of the future policy rate in order to exert greater control over longer-term rates. I offer an alternative perspective: namely, that money is essential for the central bank’s control over the price level and that the monetary authority’s control over interest rates is exaggerated.

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Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in its series Working Papers with number 2012-020.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedlwp:2012-020
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  1. Michael Woodford, 2008. "How Important Is Money in the Conduct of Monetary Policy?," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(8), pages 1561-1598, December.
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  9. 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.
  10. 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.
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  15. 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.
  16. 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.
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  20. James D. Hamilton, 1996. "Measuring the liquidity effect," Working Papers in Applied Economic Theory 96-06, Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco.
  21. 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.
  22. 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.
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  26. 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.
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  36. 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.
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  42. 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.
  43. 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.
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