Monetary policy refers to the Federal Reserve Bank's mandate to influence the economy by manipulating currency levels and the amount of Treasury securities on the market, which in turn affects interest rates. Discretionary monetary policy refers to the Fed's ability to react dynamically to economic conditions and make quick decisions, as opposed to only using the tools at its disposal when prearranged thresholds are reached. This latter approach is called committed, or sometimes constrained, monetary policy.
The term 'discretionary monetary policy' refers to actions undertaken by the Federal Reserve in order to minimize inflation, maximize employment, ensure stable economic growth, and promote American economic interests abroad.
Technological advances along with an environment that more greatly values transparency has led to greater communication between the Fed and the public. The Fed makes available via its website a large number of inflation reports detailing projections and economists' expectations. This environment is more conducive to discretionary monetary policy. Some of the perceived advantages of non-discretionary monetary policy include simplicity, predictability, credibility, and insulation from political pressures.
Understanding Monetary Policy
The four primary goals that motivate Fed policy are minimizing inflation, maintaining full employment, promoting stable economic growth, and maintaining an optimal level of exchange with respect to American companies' positions within the global trading market
The Fed, or central bank, has a number of tools available to effectuate monetary policy, including the buying and selling of Treasury securities, adjusting the interest rates it uses to lend money to member banks and adjusting reserve requirements, which refers to the actual cash on hand that banks must retain in their vaults relative to their overall investments. The buying and selling of Treasury securities is the most commonly employed tool used by the Fed, because the huge amounts of money involved make it an effective tool. Moving so much money in and out of the economy influences interest rates and reserve requirements in its own way. This allows the Fed to influence the economy, but with a minimum level of perceived intervention.
Exploring Money Supply and Liquidity
By buying Treasury securities on the open market, the Fed can inject liquidity, or cash, into the economy. This works by providing cash to the banks and other investors in exchange for their Treasury investments. This cash then works itself into the wider economy in the form of loans, stock purchases and other actions that benefit companies and individuals. This can be an important catalyst for growth when the economy is not performing well and lenders tighten standards, making it especially difficult for smaller companies to obtain money to fund growth. However, when the money supply increases too quickly, this leads to a higher risk of inflation, which is one of the Fed's primary concerns.
Managing Inflation Issues
The U.S. central bank and other central banks seem to have adopted a constrained, discretionary policy of inflation targeting. The Fed uses monetary policy to boost employment and income levels -- but in a way that doesn't cause a general rise in the prices of goods and services. The Fed monitors commodity prices and international exchange rates
- Federal Reserve Education: Monetary Policy Basics
- Federal Reserve: How Does Monetary Policy Influence Inflation and Employment?
- MONETARY | definition in the Cambridge English Dictionary
- Federal Reserve: Conducting Monetary Policy
- Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “The Federal Reserve's Dual Mandate.” Accessed August 13, 2020.
- European Central Bank. “Independence.” Accessed August 13, 2020.
- Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System. “What does it mean that the Federal Reserve is "independent within the government"?” Accessed August 13, 2020.
- International Monetary Fund. “What Is Keynesian Economics?” Accessed August 13, 2020.