Push On A String

AAA

DEFINITION of 'Push On A String'

When monetary policy cannot entice consumers into spending more money or investing in an economy, even if monetary policy is loosened to to put more money into peoples' hands. This term is often attributed to noted economist John Maynard Keyenes.

BREAKING DOWN 'Push On A String'

If the core demand doesn't exist to induce people to part with their money, it can't be forced through monetary policy. Trying to do so is like trying to "push on a string".

Such a situation occurred during the Great Depression in the 1930s and in Japan during the late 1990s when interest rates were about 1%. This situation is sometimes referred to as a "liquidity trap" and explains why central bankers do not attempt to lower rates to levels approaching zero. To lower rates to this level would eliminate monetary policy's power to influence economic growth and consumption.

RELATED TERMS
  1. Monetary Policy

    The actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory ...
  2. Keynesian Economics

    An economic theory of total spending in the economy and its effects ...
  3. Gibson's Paradox

    An economic observation made by J. M. Keynes during the period ...
  4. Money Supply

    The entire stock of currency and other liquid instruments in ...
  5. Cost-Push Inflation

    A phenomenon in which the general price levels rise (inflation) ...
  6. Liquidity Trap

    A situation in which prevailing interest rates are low and savings ...
Related Articles
  1. Fundamental Analysis

    How Influential Economists Changed Our History

    Find out how these five groundbreaking thinkers laid our financial foundations.
  2. Options & Futures

    Explaining The World Through Macroeconomic Analysis

    From unemployment and inflation to government policy, learn what macroeconomics measures and how it affects everyone.
  3. Economics

    The Importance Of Inflation And GDP

    Learn the underlying theories behind these concepts and what they can mean for your portfolio.
  4. Active Trading

    Introduction To Stationary And Non-Stationary Processes

    What to know about stationary and non-stationary processes before you try to model or forecast.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Economics

    Explaining the Participation Rate

    The participation rate is the percentage of civilians who are either employed or unemployed and looking for a job.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
RELATED FAQS
  1. Is Japan an emerging market economy?

    Japan is not an emerging market economy. Emerging market economies are characterized by low per capita incomes, poor infrastructure ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. 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 >>
  3. 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 >>
  4. When has the United States run its largest trade deficits?

    In macroeconomics, balance of trade is one of the leading economic metrics that determines the trading relationship of a ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the utility function and how is it calculated?

    In economics, utility function is an important concept that measures preferences over a set of goods and services. Utility ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How does the bond market react to changes in the Federal Funds Rate?

    The bond market is highly sensitive to changes in the federal funds rate. When the Federal Reserve increases the federal ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Financial Crisis

    A situation in which the value of financial institutions or assets drops rapidly. A financial crisis is often associated ...
  2. Election Period

    The period of time during which an investor who owns an extendable or retractable bond must indicate to the issuer whether ...
  3. Shanghai Stock Exchange

    The largest stock exchange in mainland China, the Shanghai Stock Exchange is a nonprofit organization run by the China Securities ...
  4. Dead Cat Bounce

    A temporary recovery from a prolonged decline or bear market, followed by the continuation of the downtrend. A dead cat bounce ...
  5. Bear Market

    A market condition in which the prices of securities are falling, and widespread pessimism causes the negative sentiment ...
  6. Alligator Spread

    An unprofitable spread that occurs as a result of large commissions charged on the transaction, regardless of favorable market ...
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!