A:

Central banks use several different methods to increase (or decrease) the amount of money in the banking system. These actions are referred to as monetary policy. While the Federal Reserve Board (the Fed) could print paper currency at its discretion in an effort to increase the amount of money in the economy, this is not the measure used. Here are three methods the Fed uses in order to inject (or withdraw) money from the economy:

  1. The Fed can influence the money supply by modifying reserve requirements, which is the amount of funds banks must hold against deposits in bank accounts. By lowering the reserve requirements, banks are able loan more money, which increases the overall supply of money in the economy. Conversely, by raising the banks' reserve requirements, the Fed is able to decrease the size of the money supply.

  2. The Fed can also alter the money supply by changing short-term interest rates. By lowering (or raising) the discount rate that banks pay on short-term loans from the Federal Reserve Bank, the Fed is able to effectively increase (or decrease) the liquidity of money. Lower rates increase the money supply and boost economic activity; however, decreases in interest rates fuel inflation, so the Fed must be careful not to lower interest rates too much for too long.

  3. Finally, the Fed can affect the money supply by conducting open market operations, which affects the federal funds rate. In open operations, the Fed buys and sells government securities in the open market. If the Fed wants to increase the money supply, it buys government bonds. This supplies the securities dealers who sell the bonds with cash, increasing the overall money supply. Conversely, if the Fed wants to decrease the money supply, it sells bonds from its account, thus taking in cash and removing money from the economic system.

To learn more about central banks and their role in monetary policy, check out Formulating Monetary Policy.

(For a one-stop shop on subprime mortgages and the subprime meltdown, check out the Subprime Mortgages Feature.)

RELATED FAQS
  1. How is the Federal Reserve audited?

    Contrary to conventional wisdom, the Federal Reserve is extensively audited. Politicians on the left and right of a populist ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Who decides when to print money in the US?

    The U.S. Treasury decides to print money in the United States as it owns and operates printing presses. However, the Federal ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Why do some people claim the Federal Reserve is unconstitutional?

    The U.S. Constitution does not mention the need for a central bank, nor does it explicitly grant the government the power ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How can the federal reserve increase aggregate demand?

    The Federal Reserve can increase aggregate demand in indirect ways by lowering interest rates. Aggregate demand is a measure ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How does the stock market react to changes in the Federal Funds Rate?

    The stock market reacts to changes in the federal funds rate in various ways depending on where it is in the business cycle. ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the relationship between the current yield and risk?

    The general relationship between current yield and risk is that they increase in correlation to one another. A higher current ... Read Full Answer >>
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    What's a Treasury Note?

    A treasury note is a U.S. government debt security that offers a fixed interest rate and a maturity date that ranges between one and 10 years.
  2. Investing Basics

    Explaining Trade Liberalization

    Trade liberalization is the process of removing or reducing obstacles that impede the exchange of goods and services between nations.
  3. Investing

    What’s Holding Back the U.S. Consumer

    Even as job growth has surged and gasoline prices have plunged, U.S. consumers are proving slow to respond and repair their overextended balance sheets.
  4. Economics

    The Problem With Today’s Headline Economic Data

    Headwinds have kept the U.S. growth more moderate than in the past–including leverage levels and an aging population—and the latest GDP revisions prove it.
  5. Economics

    Explaining the Participation Rate

    The participation rate is the percentage of civilians who are either employed or unemployed and looking for a job.
  6. Economics

    What Qualifies as Full Employment?

    Full employment is an economic term describing a situation where all available labor resources are being utilized to their highest extent.
  7. Economics

    Understanding Cash and Cash Equivalents

    Cash and cash equivalents are items that are either physical currency or liquid investments that can be immediately converted into cash.
  8. Fundamental Analysis

    Is India the Next Emerging Markets Superstar?

    With a shift towards manufacturing and services, India could be the next emerging market superstar. Here, we provide a detailed breakdown of its GDP.
  9. Investing News

    Timing of the Fed Interest Rates Hike

    Until the beginning of August, Fed watchers expected the central bank to raise rates in September. However, recent news pertaining to China’s slowing economy and its devaluation of the yuan have ...
  10. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    ETF Analysis: Guggenheim Enhanced Short Dur

    Find out about the Guggenheim Enhanced Short Duration ETF, and learn detailed information about this fund that focuses on fixed-income securities.
RELATED TERMS
  1. Monetary Policy

    The actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory ...
  2. Cost, Insurance and Freight - CIF

    A trade term requiring the seller to arrange for the carriage ...
  3. International Monetary Fund - IMF

    An international organization created for the purpose of standardizing ...
  4. Inflation

    The rate at which the general level of prices for goods and services ...
  5. Delivered Duty Unpaid - DDU

    A transaction in international trade where the seller is responsible ...
  6. Marginable

    Definition of "marginable."

You May Also Like

Trading Center
×

You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!