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The Troubling Economics and Politics of Paying Interest on Bank Reserves: A Critique of the Federal Reserve’s Exit Strategy

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  • Thomas I. Palley

Abstract

The Federal Reserve has recently activated its newly acquired powers to pay interest on reserves of depository institutions. The Fed maintains its new policy increases economic efficiency and intends it to play a lead role in the exit from quantitative easing. This paper argues it is a bad policy that (1) has a deflationary bias; (2) is costly to taxpayers and that cost will increase as normal conditions return; and (3) establishes institutional lock-in that obstructs desirable changes to regulatory policy. The paper recommends repealing the Fed’s power to pay interest on bank reserves. Second, the Fed should repeal regulation Q that prohibits payment of interest on demand deposits. Third, the Fed should immediately implement an alternative system of asset based reserve requirements (liquidity ratios) that will improve monetary control and can help exit quantitative easing at no cost to the public purse. Now is the optimal time for this change. Lastly, the paper argues the new policy of paying interest on reserves reveals the troubling political economy governing the actions of the Federal Reserve and policy recommendations of the economics profession.

Suggested Citation

  • Thomas I. Palley, 2010. "The Troubling Economics and Politics of Paying Interest on Bank Reserves: A Critique of the Federal Reserve’s Exit Strategy," Working Papers wp221, Political Economy Research Institute, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Handle: RePEc:uma:periwp:wp221
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    File URL: https://www.peri.umass.edu/fileadmin/pdf/working_papers/working_papers_201-250/WP221.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Thomas Palley, 2003. "Asset Price Bubbles and the Case for Asset-Based Reserve Requirements," Challenge, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 46(3), pages 53-72.
    2. Thomas Palley, 2007. "Asset-based Reserve Requirements: A Response," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(4), pages 575-578.
    3. Thomas Mayer, 1966. "Interest Payments On Required Reserve Balances," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 21(1), pages 116-118, March.
    4. Todd Keister & Antoine Martin & James J. McAndrews, 2008. "Divorcing money from monetary policy," Economic Policy Review, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, issue Sep, pages 41-56.
    5. Thomas Palley, 2004. "Asset-based reserve requirements: reasserting domestic monetary control in an era of financial innovation and instability," Review of Political Economy, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 16(1), pages 43-58.
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    Cited by:

    1. Guillermo Gigliani, 2014. "The Reform of the Federal Reserve in 2008: Is the Money Supply Endogenous or Exogenous?," Ensayos Económicos, Central Bank of Argentina, Economic Research Department, vol. 1(71), pages 73-94, December.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Interest on reserves; asset based reserve requirements; liquidity ratios;

    JEL classification:

    • E40 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - General
    • E42 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Monetary Sytsems; Standards; Regimes; Government and the Monetary System
    • E43 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Money and Interest Rates - - - Interest Rates: Determination, Term Structure, and Effects

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