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117 0 - 7 4



. T O : ; Board of Governor.

Division of Rasearch & Statistics
(J. C. Partee)


0 *


SUBJECT: Longer-Range Implica­
tions of a Suspension of Q
Ceilings on Large CD's

Attached is a mamorandum, prepared principally by Lyle Gramley,
oaaling with some of the longer-range effects that might stem from a
suspension of Q ceilings on the remaining maturities of large-denomination
It was prepared for the initial discussion of this issue at

the Board meeting on Monday, October 19.

Strictly Confidential (F.R.)
October 16, 1970

HOT q-|4TEAeiri:^<J

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

CD s.

Strictly Confidential (FR)

October 16, 1970

Some Longer-range Implications of Suspending
) Ceilings on Large Denomination C D fs
Any assessment of probable future developments associated
with suspending Regulation ^ ceilings on large denomination CD*s is bound to be fraught with uncertainty.

The experience of recent years

provides some clues as to how banks might react if they were given

implications for financial market developments that would stem from
that freedom.

But,.to an uncomfortably large degree, judgments must

be based on general theoretical reasoning, rather than on empirically
tested propositions.
The discussion which follows considers first the potential
reversibility of a Board decision to suspend the ceilings on large CD's.
It then considers possible structural effects of such an action on the
behavior of banks and other participants in financial markets, and
attempts to evaluate the workings of monetary controls in the financial
environment that would emerge.
For a number of reasons, the Board would not wish to take
action putting Q ceilings on a standby basis for large CD*s without
considering carefully the feasibility of reinstating the ceilings later
if that seemed necessary or desirable.

Legislative aspects of the problem

clearly dictate some consideration of this matter.

Temporary legal

authority to suspend the ceilings was provided initially in the fall of
1966, and has been extended on three subsequent occasions; the present
authority to suspend ceilings expires on March 22, 1971.

If the

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

additional freedom to bid for time deposits, and as to the more general


provision of the law permitting suspension of. the ceilings, were not
extended, the Board’ authority to set interest rate ceilings might
possibly revert to the status existing prior to the fall of 1966—
although this among other things, would seem to rule out differentiation
by size of deposit for purposes of Regulation Q.

At that time, the

Board's legal counsel argued that the authority to regulate interest pay­

option to suspend ceilings.

Also, it was argued that if the authority

were used to set ceiling rates at levels completely out of touch with
market rates of interest, the Board might be accused of acting in direct
opposition to a statutory mandate.
The merits of that argument would depend, however, on the circumstances surrounding the lapse of the temporary legislation.

If the Congress

permitted lapse of the temporary legislation because it believed that
actions of the regulatory authorities permitting banks to pay whatever
interest they desired on large CD's had had adverse effects on sound
banking, the Board might well be forced once again to impose effective
limits on CD rates.

If the lapse occurred under other circumstances,

however, the need to impose effective limits on CD rates would be less

The possibility that the Board would be compelled subsequently to

reinstate effective ceilings on CD rates seems remote, but it cannot be
ruled out altogether.

(A fuller discussion of these issues is provided

in an attached memorandum prepared by Mr. Sanders.)

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Librai

ments on deposits provided in the Banking Act of 1933 did not provide an


In the event that ceilings were suspended and then subsequently
reinstated--either to comply with the law or because the Board deemed such
action appropriate in the light of economic and financial developments-there would inevitably be some churning in financial markets.


even if banks had become much more heavily dependent than they are now on
the CD market as a source of reserve adjustment and as a means of financing

way that would avoid serious initial adjustment problems for banks and
the financial markets.

For example, the Board could initially reestablish

ceiling rates at levels that made CD's competitive throughout the maturity
range for all banks actively in the market, and then--if it were deemed
appropriate--adjust the ceilings as frequently as necessary to assure banks
that an immediate closure of this avenue of reserve adjustment was not

Such a procedure might entail some increase in the growth

rate of C D ’ in the first few weeks and months following reinstatement of
the ceilings, relative to what would have occurred otherwise, as banks
sought to prepare themselves for a subsequent squeeze.

But this could

scarcely be considered a significant loss of monetary control.

Thus, from

the standpoint of economic issues alone, a suspension of the ceilings now
would not appear to make subsequent reinstatement unduly difficult or
fraught with problems.
It should be clear, however, that a repositioning of the ceilings
after a period of suspension would almost certainly provoke strong adverse
reactions in the financial community, unless this action had been forced

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

asset expansion, it seems likely that ceilings could be reinstated in a


on the Board by the necessity to comply with the law.

Our contacts with

banks suggest that the recent actions of the Board in suspending Q ceilings
on 30-89 day maturities, and in bringing commercial paper issues of bank
holding companies and affiliates under Regulation D but not under
Regulation Q, have led to widespread expectations that a general move in
the direction of providing increased freedom from ceiling rates on deposits
An additional action by the Board suspending all

ceilings on large denomination CD's would seem to confirm these expectations.
It seems likely, therefore, that suspension of the ceilings
would lead banks to plan for the future with confident anticipation that
reinstatement would not occur.

Vigorous protest would have to be expected

if ceilings threatening access to the large CD market were subsequently

Photocopy from Gerald R. ford Library

is now in process.

Structural Changes in Financial Behavior
Structural changes in banking practices would very likely begin
to develop rather promptly if suspension of Q ceilings produced a general
belief that the Board's action implied an end to the era of CD regulation
by interest rate controls.

Perhaps the most predictable result relates

to bank issues of commercial paper, which already have declined substantially.
If banks believed that CD rate ceilings would not be reimposed, there
would seem to be only two reasons why bank holding companies and affil­
iates would continue to issue such obligations.

First, commercial

paper issues might be regarded as a convenient vehicle for financing
the nonbank activities of bank holding companies, particularly since


there are regulatory limits oij the extent to which banks may extend
financing to their affiliates.

Second, under present law, banks are

not permitted to issue time deposits with less than 30 days maturity,
but they can issue commercial paper through holding companies and
affiliates in this maturity range without running into the prohibition of
interest payments on demand deposits.

(The Board might wish later to

consider regulatory changes to eliminate this anomaly, putting commercial
paper and large C D ‘ on a completely equivalent regulatory basis*)


the high reserve requirements on such funds, the cost to a bank would be
high, and its offering rates correspondingly low.

Nevertheless, if

customer demands for short-term claims at these lower rates existed,
banks would no doubt be ready to accommodate them.

The volume of such

short-term commercial paper outstanding would likely be relatively minor.
Apart from these two exceptions, continuance of bank interest in the
commercial paper market as a source of funds would be kept alive only
by a continuing concern that CD rate ceilings might be reinstated.
Suspension of the ceilings would also provide incentive for an
early runoff of liabilities to foreign branches.

The incentive would

be all the greater, the more confident banks were that reinstatement of
the ceilings was an improbable occurrence.

In the absence of any other

Board action, Euro-dollar borrowings by the U. S. banking community
would have to depend predominately on cost considerations.

At current yield spreads, Euro-dollar borrowing is already
unattractive even though marginal reserve requirements on these funds are


now effectively zero for most banks.

At-prevailing;interest rates on newly

CD's with three months to maturity, reserve requirements on time

deposits and the cost of FDIC insurance raise the net cost of such funds
by about 40 basis points.

The yield spread between CD's and Euro-dollar

borrowings presently is greater than this, even in the short-maturity ranges
for Eurodollars.

however, it is worth noting that U, S. commercial banks will presumably
have a relatively strong interest in keeping their foreign branches alive
for the foreseeable future, especially in view of the vehicle that these
branches provide for bank participation in lending activities abroad with­
out violating the Voluntary Credit Restraint program.

If interest rate

spreads were to change significantly, and reduce the cost of Euro-dollars
relative to CD issuance, the institutional mechanisms for obtaining funds
from the Euro-dollar market would still be in place.
Interest rate spreads will not always remain as unfavorable to
Euro-dollar borrowing as they are at the mcment--since present yield re­
lationships reflect the continuance of programs of credit restraint in
some European countries, while the U. S. is pursuing a policy of moderate
monetary expansion.

It is conceivable that the timing of cyclical develop­

ments here and abroad would, from time to time, give rise to yield spreads
favoring Euro-dollar borrowing as opposed to CD issuance.
Euro-dollar liabilities to foreign branches would rise.

In such periods,
Of course, we would

not expect to see a repetition of the massive increase of 1969, or even the

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

In considering the long-run future of Euro-dollar borrowings,

-7 -


Increased reliance on the CD market would tend not only to dis­
place nondepositary liabilities as sources of bank reserve adjustment but
also to decrease still further the reliance of banks on shifts in asset
structure to accommodate changes in the pace of loan demand.
not be a new development, but an extension of previous trends.
early 1960*8

This would
Since the

banks have come to rely more on liability adjustments, and

less on shifts in holdings of liquid assets, during periods of cyclical
contraction and expansion.

This trend would likely be given impetus if

the uncertainties associated with the ability to attract funds by bidding
for CD's were removed.

Specifically, we should probably expect to see

less rundown of liquid asset holdings during periods of monetary restraint
than we saw in 1966 and 1969, and less subsequent rebuilding than occurred
in the intervening years.

On average, large banks might choose to hold only

a slightly higher percentage of their assets in liquid form than they did
at the height of the credit squeeze in 1966 and 1969,
This possibility has implications for the manner in which mone­
tary controls would work if CD ceilings were suspended (to be discussed
in the next section).

To avoid accumulations and decumulations of liquid

assets, banks would have two options:

1) to vary their offering rates

on CD's sufficiently to prevent accumulations and subsequent rundowns of
liquid asset holdings over the cycle, or 2) to change interest rates, and
perhaps other terms, on loans more promptly than they have in the past­
as a means of encouraging more loan financing at banks when economic activ- *

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Libraiy

of growth that took place in 1966.

£r»\•hj'-esh r-a^e

Cefjti-jx )

-8 -

ity is weakening, and of inducing a shift in borrowing to the market
when loan demands are strengthening.

Presumably, the banks would do

seme of both, but they probably would rely principally upon variations
In CD fates to keep liquid asset holdings at desired levels.
To the extent that banks adjusted their loan rates more promptly,
the effects of monetary policy on these interest rates would occur with
This would be of particular significance

to business borrowers, whose demands for external financing show strong
cyclical fluctuations.

Absence of the ceilings would also mean that abrupt

changes in bank credit availability to businesses— such as have occurred in
the past when CD ceilings were generating severe pressure on the reserve
positions of money market banks— would be less likely to occur.

As a

consequence, nonflnancial businesses might feel somewhat less uncomfort­
able with the state of their balance sheet liquidity than they do currently.
More importantly, however, we might well see a significant reduction in
the volume of commercial paper, and especially in the number of issuers,
since this source of funds would be a less important alternative to bank
credit during periods of severe monetary restraint.

Dependence upon

longer-term security issues during episodes of tightness in the c re d i t 1
markets might also decline. A reduction in the importance of the commer­
cial paper market as a source of funds to nonfinancial businesses would
seem to be a highly desirable development, since this market is suscept­
ible to shocks

when individual borrowers are found to be in financial

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

shorter lags than in the past.


E f f e c t s on M o n e ta ry C o n t r o l s

We turn how more specifically to the implications for monetary
controls of a suspension of Q ceilings on large CD's,
three principal issues to consider.


There appear to be

Would the efficacy of monetary

restraints be undermined if banks were permitted to bid freely for large


What effects on the distribution of fund flows in financial


What are the probable implications for the strategy of monetary policy?
There are two principal reasons for concern that removal of Q

ceilings on large CD's would undermine the efficacy of monetary policy.
First, as the previous discussion indicated, it seems probable that large
banks would vary offering rates on CD's substantially as their principal
means of adjusting to changing loan demands and to variations in the growth
rates of other deposits.

These fluctuations in CD rates would, to some ex­

tent, induce direct substitution between demand balances and CD's.

A d di ­

tionally, the movements in CD rates would exert an influence on market
rates of interest and thereby induce substitution between demand deposits
and market securities.

It could be argued, therefore, that the relation

between the reserve base and the money supply, and also between the reserve
U base and total bank credit, would be somewhat more variable than if CD rates

were fixed.

It would still be possible to achieve any desired growth rates

of money stock--or, if the System chose, of bank credit— by regulating the
growth of total bank reserves.

However, the System's ability to maintain

Photocopy fr0 Gerald R. Ford Library

markets, and on the sectoral distribution of real output, might result?


d e s ired growth rates of money and bank credit: might be less precise because

of lack of knowledge as to the timing and magnitude of the induced transfers
from demand deposits.

Also, as d i ^ y s s e d more fully in the next section,

variations in CD rates would have some influence on rate of monetary ex­
pansion needed to achieve any desired growth path of GNP.
The uncertainties of this kind created by variations in CD rates

periods immediately following an increase in the Q ceilings on CD's— periods
in which very large shifts in financial asset portfolios have occurred.
The problems created for monetary policy would thus not be new, and if CD
rates were set completely by market forces, they would be mainly transi­
tional in character.

As experience was gained with the effects of fluctu­

ating CD rates on the public's desired holdings of demand deposits, adjust­
ments could be made in open-market operations to compensate for the port­
folio shifts that occurred.

It could therefore be argued that a system of

variable CD rates would, over the long run, increase the precision with
which the System could control the growth rate of money and bank credit,
since it would eliminate the necessity for abrupt changes in CD ceilings
and the huge shifts in asset portfolios they produce.
A second source of concern having to do with the efficacy of
monetary policy relates to the implications for nonprice credit rationing
at banks.

As long as the Federal Reserve is able to limit the growth of

total bank credit through its control over bank reserves,some sort of

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Libraiy

would be similar, in principle, to those encountered in the past during

effective rationing system at banks would have to take place to bring
demand for, and supply of, bank loans into balance.


As the discussion

of the previous section indicates, there is reason to think that greater
dependence on the CD market would encourage banks to adopt more frequent
changes in the interest rates they charge on business and other loans.
It is possible, though not probable, that more flexible policies might
A better

case could be made that freer access to loanable funds through the CO
market might lead banks to maintain more stable nonprice terms on loans
over the cycle, and to accomplish the rationing needed to keep loan
demand and supply in balance largely by varying loan rates in step
with the cost of CD's,
If the rationing system that developed at banks took the form
of greater variations in loan rates and smaller changes in credit availa­
bility to particular borrowers, the channels through which monetary res­
traint operated to affect spending would be altered.

If changes in bank

credit availability were not as large, variations in credit costs would
come to play a more significant role in the monetary process, and there
might need to be larger changes in credit availability at the nonbank
thrift institutions and in the public credit markets to compensate for
the greater stability of nonprice lending terms at banks.

Though such

changes in the importance of the various channels of transmission of mone­
tary policy might occur, they would not prevent the achievement of any
desired degree of aggregate monetary restraint or ease.

But they

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Libraiy

also be pursued with regard to nonprice rationing devices.


would have implications for the effects of monetary policy on the
distribution of fund flows in financial markets and on the structure
of real output•
Piscributional Effects.

Less reliance on direct rationing by banks,

with greater dependence on fluctuations in interest rates, in the trans­
mission of monetary policy might produce some long-range benefits in
terms of improvements in efficiency of resource use.

But it would shift

the burden of monetary restraint towards sectors in which expenditures


are more interest sensitive.

The available evidence suggests that this

would mean an increased burden on housing and on state and locaJL^construction expenditures, with the principal offset a r e d u c t i o n i n the
degree of restraint imposed on business fixed investment.
Also, wider variations in short-term interest rates over the
cycle would serve as the mechanism for producing greater changes in
credit availability from nonbanlc financial institutions, since they
would generate larger swings in rates of inflow of consumer-type time
and savings deposits to the nonbank thrift institutions, and would also
affect the policy loans of life insurance companies.

This, too, would

tend to accentuate the constriction of mortgage credit and home-building
during periods of monetary restraint.

This tendency would be dampened,

however, if absence of the Q ceilings on large CD's helped to sustain
the flow of mortgage lending by commercial banks during periods of
monetary restraint.
On balance, probable changes in the sectoral distribution of
the effects of monetary restraint on spending might be undesirable in

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library




. .

, ,.


terms of social priorities.



But there is some reason to think that the

sectoral impact of monetary restraint would not differ markedly from what
it has been in the recent past.

During IS69, large increases in non­

deposit liabilities of banks and a substantial increase in the volume of
market financing by nonfinancial businesses--especially through commercial
paper issues--were important factors in driving up market interest rates,

bank intermediaries, to the home-building industry, and to state and
local financial markets.

Because of these adjustments, nonfinancial

businesses were able to increase their share of total funds raised from
40 per cent in 1968 to 54 per cent in 1969--the highest share for any
postwar year since 194C.

Perhaps the share captured by the nonfinancial

business sector in 1959 would have been still larger if banks had been
able to bid freely for large denomination CD*s.

But it seems difficult

to sustain an argument that Regulation Q ceilings on large C D ’ have been
a particularly effective device for buffering such areas as home construc­
tion and state and local government spending from the effects of monetary
We believe, therefore, that the Board could suspend the
ceilings on large C D fs, if it chose to do so, in the expectation that the
sectoral effects of monetary restraint without the ceilings would not be
greatly affected.

But the Board should be prepared to face the possi­

bility that the problems of the nonbank intermediaries and the housing
industry during periods of restraint would be increased somewhat, and it

Photocopy froifi Gerald R. Ford Library

and thereby communicating the effects of monetary restraint to the non­


is a reasonable supposition that ether regulatory agencies--and perhaps


the Congress--raight well express strong views in opposition to a sus­
pension, particularly if such effects began to appear.

Also, suspension

of ceilings on large C D fs would highlight the inequality of treatment of
large and small savers, and would augment pressures to provide additional
freedom to banks and other thrift institutions to raise rates on consumer-

Monetary Policy Strategy. We turn now to consider the implications of
a suspension of Q ceilings on large C D ’ for the strategy of monetary

To isolate the effects of suspension from the many other factors

that influence the course of monetary policy that the System might choose,
we must, of course, assume other things equal.

For this purpose, we might

suppose that an increase in private spending propensities threatens to raise
the growth rate of current dollar GUP above the desired path, and that the
System employs monetary restraint to choke off part or all of the poten­
tial rise in spending.
The implications of the earlier discussion suggest that to
obtain the same degree o'f monetary restraint without CD ceilings, interest
rates might have to rise somewhat more than they otherwise would.


into account the response of money demand to interest rates, this would
imply a somewhat lower growth rate of the money stock, and for similar
reasons, the growth rate of consumer-type time and savings deposits also
would be somewhat lower. The growth rate of C D fs, on the other hand,
would clearly be larger than if effective Regulation Q ceilings were in

This would tend to offset the slower growth rate of other time

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

type deposits and shares.


deposits and of the demand deposit component of the money 2 stock.


achievement of the same overall degree of monetary restraint would prob­

be accomplished with a somewhat higher growth rate credit. .

Iz cannot be demonstrated conclusively, however, whether the growth rate

of bank credit consistent with any given degree of monetary restraint

Stated more generally, suspension of the ceilings would raean
that, other things equal, System policy actions might have to produce
somewhat larger variations in interest rates over the cycle, and some­
what larger contracyclical variations in the money stock, to achieve a
given cyclical change in the degree of monetary restraint.

For some time,

however, there would be significant uncertainties surrounding the meaning *
of variations in bank credit.

This suggests that the narrowly defined

money supply would likely have to become the principal quantitative
target for open-market operations, at least until considerable experi­
ence had been gained in interpreting changes in bank credit under the
new conditions.

Additionally, careful attention would need to be given

to interest rates and to flows of funds into nonbank intermediaries as
complementary indicators of the overall degree of credit restraint.
Looking more generally at the question of suspending Q ceilings
on large CD*s and its relation to the strategy of monetary policy, it
might be questioned whether it would be prudent to relinquish a control
device that undoubtedly has had some value in restricting bank credit
availability--for all its drawbacks.

In this connection, it seems worth

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

would be higher or lower in the absence of the ceilings.

-1 6 -

noting that if the Board decided later that bank bidding for large CD's
v as having detrimental effects on economic stability, an alternative

means of controlling the growth of CD's would be available-

This could

be done through adjustment of reserve requirements on large CD's, and
possibly also t>n commercial paper issued through affiliates.


to the Board's legal counsel, large-denomination CD's could be singled
out as a special class of deposit for purposes of reserve requirements,

of 10 per cent on large-denomination CD's as long as the average reserve
requirement on all time and savings deposits did not exceed 1 0 per cent.
(See attached memo.)

Given the present distribution of time deposits

between large-denomination CD's and other categories, reserve require­
ments of 100 per cent on large CD's would be legally permissible.
If the Board chose to do so, it could use this power in ways
that would affect greatly the incentives of banks to increase their
outstanding CD's, bu4 would have relatively small effects on the rela­
tion between total bank reserves and deposits, on Federal Reserve manage­
ment of bank reserves through open-market operations, and on the overall
profitability of banking.

For example, the Board might impose reserve

requirements of (say) 20 per cent on outstanding large-denomination CD's
in excess -of (say) the average amount outstanding over the previous four

Individual banks choosing to increase their outstanding CD's

above the base would be free to do so, provided they were willing to
incur the incremental cost.

By adjusting the marginal reserve requirement

(or the base period) from time to time, the Board could exercise a power­
ful influence on C D fs outstanding x^hile still leaving the individual bank
freedom to make adjustments in the light of its own particular circum­
stances and interest.

Photocopy from Gerald R. Ford Library

and the Board could, if it chose, impose reserve requirements in excess

Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, One Federal Reserve Bank Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63102