Hello from Sycamore,
COVID-19 has been a shock to our economy and our lives. As a result, the Federal Reserve Bank had to implement swift and significant monetary policy changes. During the onset of the pandemic (March/April 2020), there were worldwide shutdowns that caused many to lose their jobs, miss paychecks that were necessary to pay bills, and companies shuttered. The Fed knew that they needed to take an approach that would spur the economy as much as possible as the country started to reopen. They did this by reducing the reserve requirements for depository institutions, they bought bonds in the open market, and they reduced the interest rate to nearly zero. All these measures made the economy flush with cash, borrowing cheap, and saving not lucrative.
The extra cash that these changes have generated has spurred inflation, but inflation is not always a bad thing. The Federal Reserve has a long-term target inflation rate of 2%. The right amount of inflation in a stable economy can influence expansion. While ongoing inflation issues are certainly possible short-term, we think prolonged inflation or hyperinflation seems unlikely.
If inflation would persist, however, there are a few ways that the Fed can help slow economic activity. These are through changing reserve requirements at depository institutions, open market operations, and setting the discount rate.
- Reserve requirements refer to how much of a bank’s total deposits must be kept at the bank at the close of business every day. For example, if a bank has just $500 in deposits and the reserve requirements were 10% then they would only be able to loan out $450. Changing the requirement changes the money supply.
- Open market operations are when the Fed either buys or sells government securities in the open market. If they sell securities, they are removing money from the economy by exchanging securities for cash. If they buy securities, they are adding money to the economy by exchanging cash for securities.
- The discount rate is the rate that the Federal Reserve would pay to banks for depositing funds with the Fed overnight. This effectively sets a floor on the interest rate and the rate trickles down and influences other interest rates on loans such as car loans, personal loans, mortgages, business loans, etc.
All these measures can be used in different proportions to influence the economy and at various times or simultaneously.
Thank you for your business and trust,
Sycamore Financial Group
***This article is distributed for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended to constitute legal, tax, accounting, or investment advice.***