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FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK 63 The Role of the M oney Supply in Bu siness C ycle s By R ichard G. D av is * Most, if not quite all, economists are agreed that the behavior of the quantity of money makes a significant difference in the behavior of the economy—with “money” usually defined to include currency in circulation plus private demand deposits, but sometimes to include com mercial bank time deposits as well.1 Most economists, for example, setting out to forecast next year’s gross national product under the assumption that the money supply would grow by 4 per cent, would probably want to revise their figures if they were to change this assump tion to a 2 per cent decrease. In the past five to ten years, however, there has come into increasing prominence a group of economists who would like to go considerably beyond the simple assertion that the behavior of money is a significant factor influ encing the behavior of the economy. It is not easy to characterize with any precision the views of this group of economists. As is perhaps to be expected where com plex issues are involved, their statements about the impor tance of monetary behavior in determining the course of business activity encompass a variety of individual posi tions, positions which may themselves be undergoing change. Moreover these positions are rarely stated in quantitative terms. More frequently, the importance of money as a determinant of business conditions will be characterized as “by far the major factor”, “the most im portant factor”, “a primary factor”, and by similar qualita tive phrases inescapably open to various interpretations. Of course as one moves from the stronger phrases to the weaker, one comes closer and closer to the view that money is simply “a significant factor”, at which point it be comes virtually impossible to distinguish their views from those of the great majority of professional opinions. In order to bring a few of the issues into sharper focus, this article will take a look at some evidence for the “money supply” view of business fluctuations in one of its more extreme forms. Without necessarily implying that all the following positions are held precisely as stated by any single economist, an extreme form of the money supply view can perhaps be characterized somewhat as follows: The behavior of the rate of change of the money supply is the overriding determinant of fluctuations in business ac tivity. Government spending, taxing policies, fluctuations in the rate of technological innovation, and similar matters have a relatively small or even negligible influence on the short-run course of business activity. Hence, to the extent that it can control the money supply, a central bank, such as the Federal Reserve System, can control ups and downs in business activity. The influence of money on business operates with a long lag, however, and the timing of the influence is highly variable and unpredictable. Thus attempts to moderate fluctuations in business activity by varying the rate of growth of the money supply are likely to have an uncertain effect after an uncertain lag. They may even backfire, producing the very instability they are designed to cure. Consequently, the best policy for a central bank to follow is to maintain a steady rate of growth in the money supply, year in and year out, at a rate which corresponds roughly to the growth in the economy’s productive capacity. The implications of these views are obviously both highly important and strongly at variance with widely held beliefs. Thus they deny the direct importance of fiscal policy (except perhaps in so far as it may influence monetary policy), while they attribute to monetary policy a virtually determining role as regards business fluctua * Assistant Vice President, Research and Statistics, Federal tions. At the same time, they deny the usefulness of dis Reserve Bank of New York. cretionary, countercyclical monetary policy. The issues 1 More rarely, other types of liquid assets such as mutual sav ings bank deposits are also included in the definition of money. involved are highly complex and cannot possibly be ade 64 MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 quately treated in their entirety in a single article.2 The present article, therefore, confines itself to examining the historical relationship between monetary cycles and cycles in general business. The article concludes that the relation ship between these two kinds of cycles does not, in fact, provide any real support for the view that the behavior of money is the predominant determinant of fluctuations in business activity. Moreover, the historical relationship between cycles in money and in business cannot be used to demonstrate that monetary policy is, in its effects, so long delayed and so uncertain as to be an unsatisfactory countercyclical weapon. The first section shows how proponents of the money supply view have measured cycles in money and exam ines the persistent tendency of turning points in monetary cycles, so measured, to lead turning points in general business activity. It argues that these leads do not neces sarily point to a predominant causal influence of money on business. A second section suggests that the cyclical relationship of money and business activity may be as much a reflection of a reverse influence of business on money as it is of a direct causal influence running from money to business. A third section indicates why, for some periods at least, the tendency for cycles in money to lead cycles in business may reflect nothing more than the im pact on money of a countercyclical monetary policy. Next, the relative amplitudes of monetary contractions and their associated business contractions are examined. Again it is argued that these relative amplitudes fail to provide any clear evidence for a predominant causal influence of money. A fifth section examines the timing of turning points in money and in business for evidence that the in fluence of money operates with so long and variable a lag as to make countercyclical monetary policy ineffective. A final section suggests that there may well be better ways to evaluate the causal influence of money on business than through the examination of past cyclical patterns. C Y C L E S IN M O N E Y A N D C Y C L E S IN B U S I N E S S A C T IV I T Y provides major support for their views on the causal importance of money in the business cycle. For the most part, these economists have delineated cycles in the money supply in terms of peaks and troughs in the percentage rate of change of money (usually including time deposits), while cycles in business have been defined in terms of peaks and troughs in the level of business activity as marked off, for instance, by the so-called “reference cycles” of the National Bureau of Economic Research (N B E R ).3 They have argued that virtually without exception every cycle in the level of business activity over the past century of United States experience can be associated with a cycle in the rate of growth of the money supply. The exceptions that are observed occurred during and just after World War II— although the events of 1966-67 may also be interpreted as an exception, since an apparent cyclical decline in monetary growth was not followed by a reces sion but only by a very brief slowdown in the rate of business expansion.4 The money supply school also finds that cycles in business activity have lagged behind the corresponding cycles in the rate of growth of the money supply, with business peaks and troughs thus following peaks and troughs in the rate of monetary change. While the evidence supporting these generalizations is derived from about a century of United States data, the nature of the measurements and some of the problems 3 See, for example, Milton Friedman and Anna J. Schwartz, “Money and Business Cycles”, Review of Economics and Statistics (February 1963, supplement), pages 34-38. While the procedure of these economists in comparing percentage rates of growth of money with levels of business activity can certainly be defended, it is by no means obvious that this is the most appropriate ap proach, and there are many possible alternatives. Thus, for ex ample, cycles in the rate of growth of money could be compared with cycles in the rate of growth, rather than the level, of business activity. For some purposes the choice among these alternatives makes a considerable difference, as is noted later in connection with measuring the length of the lags of business-cycle turning points relative to turning points in the monetary cycle. 4 Granting the difficulties of dating specific cycle turning points for series as erratic as the rate of growth of the money supply, a peak (for the definition of money that includes time deposits) As already implied, proponents of the money supply seems to have occurred in October 1965, with a trough in October 1966. While there was a slowdown in the rate of growth of busi school have argued that the historical relationship between ness activity in the first half of 1967, there was clearly no business cycles in money and cycles in general business activity cycle peak corresponding to the peak in the money series. Indeed, the current dollar value of GNP moved ahead in the first two quarters of 1967, although at a reduced rate. The 1965-66 decline in the rate of growth in the money supply was relatively short (twelve months). In amplitude it was clearly among the milder declines, but it was nevertheless still nearly twice as steep as the mildest of past contractions in the rate of monetary growth (No 2 Among the many interesting and relevant issues not discussed vember 1951 to September 1953). In any case, the 1965-66 de are the advantages and disadvantages of the money supply as an cline does appear to represent a specific cycle contraction for the immediate target of monetary policy or as an indicator of the rate of monetary change under the standard NBER definition. See effects of policy, the proper definition of the money supply, and Arthur F. Burns and Wesley C. Mitchell, Measuring Business Cycles (National Bureau of Economic Research, 1946), pages 55-66. the nature and stability of the demand for money. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK 65 Chart I CHANGES IN MONEY SUPPLY PLUS T!ME DEPOSITS M onth-to-month p ercen tag e ch a n g e s; com pound an n u a l rates -1 0 111 ! Note: P e rcen tage c h a n g e s are b ased on se a so n a lly ad justed d ata. S h a d e d are a s represent recession p erio d s, a c c o rd in g to N atio n al Bureau of Econom ic Research ch ro no lo gy. Source: Board of G overnors of the Fed eral Reserve System. of interpretation can be illustrated from the postwar experience represented in Chart I. The chart shows monthly percentage changes in the money supply, defined here to include currency in the hands of the public plus commercial bank private demand and time deposits, on a seasonally adjusted daily average basis.5 The shaded areas represent periods of business recession as determined by the NBER. The first point to note is the highly erratic nature of month-to-month movements in the rate of change of the money supply. Indeed, the reader might be excused if he found it difficult to see any clear-cut cyclical pattern in the chart. The erratic nature of the money series, which partly reflects short-run shifts of deposits between Trea sury and private accounts, does make the precise dating of peaks and troughs in the money series somewhat arbi trary. This introduces a corresponding degree of arbitrari ness in measuring timing relationships relative to turning points in business activity. Waiving this difficulty, how ever, peaks and troughs in the money series as dated in one well-known study of the problem are marked on the chart for the 1947-60 period.6 As can be seen, each mone 6 The dates used are essentially those presented in Milton Fried 5 While, as noted, many analysts would prefer to define the man and Anna J. Schwartz, op. cit., page 37, Table I. Minor money supply to exclude commercial bank time deposits, such an modifications of the Friedman-Schwartz dates have been made exclusion would not materially affect the general picture, at least when these seemed obviously dictated by revisions in the data subsequent to publication of their work. not for the period illustrated by the chart. 66 MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 tary peak occurs during the expansion phase of the busi ness cycle and thus leads the peak in business. Similarly, there is a monetary trough marked during three of the four postwar recessions acknowledged by the NBER. A fourth monetary trough, however, in February 1960 occurs somewhat before the onset of recession three months later. The leads of the peaks in the money series with respect to the subsequent peaks in business activity are, it should be emphasized, quite variable, ranging from twenty months to twenty-nine months for the period covered in the chart and from six months to twenty-nine months for the entire 1870 to 1961 period. The corresponding range of leads of money troughs relative to subsequent troughs in business cycles varies from three months to twelve months for the charted period and up to twentytwo months for the longer period. The significance, if any, of these leads in assessing the importance of cycles in money in causing cycles in busi ness is highly problematical. Firstly, chronological leads do not, of course, necessarily imply causation. It is per fectly possible, for example, to construct models of the economy in which money has no influence on business but which generate a consistent lead of peaks and troughs in the rate of growth of the money supply relative to peaks and troughs in general business activity.7 Secondly, the ex treme variability of the length of the leads would seem to suggest, if anything, the existence of factors other than money that can also exert an important influence on the timing of business peaks and troughs. Certainly even if a peak or trough in the rate of growth of the money supply could be identified around the time it occurred, this would be of very little, if any, help in predicting the timing of a subsequent peak or trough in business activity. Thirdly, there is a real question as to whether anything at all can be inferred from the historical record about the influence of money on business if, as is argued in the next section, there is an important reverse influence exerted by the business cycle on the monetary cycle itself. money supply economists to be highly suggestive of such an influence. Certainly the consistency with which these leads show up in cycle after cycle is rather striking and does suggest that cycles in money and cycles in business are related by some mechanism, however loose and un reliable. Nevertheless, it is important to recognize that this mechanism need not consist entirely or even mainly of a causal influence of money on business. It might, in stead, reflect principally a causal influence of business on money, or it could reflect a complex relationship of mutual interaction. As noted earlier, virtually all economists be lieve that there is, in fact, at least some causal influence of money on business, and it may be that this influence alone is enough to explain the existence of some degree of consistency, albeit a loose one, in the timing relationships of peaks and troughs in business and money. However, the existence of a powerful reverse influence of the business cycle itself on the monetary cycle would have important implications. By helping to explain the timing relation ships of the money and business cycles, the existence of such an influence would certainly tend to question severely any presumption that these timing relationships are them selves evidence for money as the predominant cause of business cycles. There are, in fact, a number of important ways in which changing business conditions can affect, and apparently have affected, the rate of growth of the money supply over the 100 years or so covered by the available data. First, the state of business influences decisions by the monetary authorities to supply reserves and to take other actions likely to affect the money supply— as is discussed in detail in the next section. Business conditions can also have a direct impact on the money supply, however. For example, they may affect the balance of payments and the size of gold imports or exports. These gold movements, in turn, may affect the size of the monetary base— the sum of cur rency in the hands of the public and reserves in the banking system. Various official policies have tended to reduce or offset this particular influence of business on money, but at least prior to the creation of the Federal Reserve System it may have been of considerable significance. T H E IN F L U E N C E O F B U S IN E S S O N M O N E Y Second, business conditions may influence the money Although the persistent tendency of cycles in monetary stock through an influence on the volume of member bank growth rates to lead business activity does not, as noted, borrowings at the Federal Reserve. While the size of such necessarily imply a predominant causal influence of money borrowings is, of course, importantly conditioned by the on business, this tendency has nevertheless seemed to the terms under which loans to member banks are made, in cluding the level of the discount rate, it may also be significantly affected by the strength of loan demand and by the yields that banks can obtain on earning assets. These matters, in turn, are clearly related in part to the 7 See James Tobin, “Money and Income: Post Hoc Propter state of business activity. Hoc?”, to be published. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK A third influence of business on money operates through the effects of business on the ratio of the public’s holdings of coin and currency to its holdings of bank de posits. A rise in this ratio, for example, tends to drain reserves from banks as the public withdraws coin and currency. Since one dollar of reserves supports several dollars of deposits, the loss of reserves leads to a multiple contraction of deposits which depresses the total money supply by more than it is increased through the rise in the public’s holdings of cash. While no one is very sure as to just what determines the cyclical pattern of the cur rency ratio, a pattern does seem to exist which in some way reflects shifts in the composition of payments over the business cycle as well as, in the historically important case of banking panics, fluctuations in the public’s confidence in the banks themselves.8 A final avenue of influence of business on money is through the influence of business conditions on the ratio of bank excess reserves to deposits. When the ratio of excess reserves to deposits is relatively high, other things equal, the money supply will be relatively low since banks will not be fully utilizing the deposit-creating potential of the supply of reserves available to them. Business condi tions can affect the reserve ratio in various ways. Thus they can influence bank desires to hold excess reserves through variations in the strength of current and prospec tive loan demand, through variations in the yields on the earning assets of banks, and through variations in banker expectations. When business is rising, loan demand is apt to be strengthening, yields on earning assets are apt to be rising, and banker confidence in the future is likely to be increasing. Thus excess reserves are apt to decline, with the reserve ratio rising and thereby exerting an upward influence on the money supply. The influence of business on money— acting through its influence on the growth of the monetary base, the cur rency ratio, and the excess reserve ratio— is extremely complex and is not necessarily stable over time. The cyclical behavior of the monetary base and the cur rency and reserve ratios have in fact varied from cycle to cycle. Moreover the relative importance of these three factors in influencing the cyclical behavior of money has 67 varied over the near 100-year period for which data are available. In part, these variations have reflected the ef fects of the creation and evolution of the Federal Reserve System. A detailed examination of the behavior of the monetary base, the currency and reserve ratios, and the role of business conditions in fixing their cyclical patterns is beyond the scope of this article. Recently, however, a very thorough analysis of the problem has been done for the NBER by Professor Phillip Cagan of Columbia Uni versity. He finds that “although the cyclical behavior of the three determinants [of the money stock] is not easy to interpret, it seems safe to conclude that most of their short-run variations are closely related to cyclical fluctua tions in economic activity. . . . Such effects provide a plausible explanation of recurring cycles in the money stock whether or not the reverse effect occurred.” 9 The fact that the business cycle itself has an important role in determining the course of the monetary cycle se riously undermines the argument that the timing relation ships of monetary cycles and business cycles point to a dominant influence of money on business. By the same token, ample room is left for the possibility that many other factors, such as fiscal policy, fluctuations in business investment demand, including those related to changes in technology, fluctuation in exports, and replacement cycles in consumer durable goods, may also exert important in dependent influences on the course of business activity. M O N E T A R Y P O L IC Y A N D T H E C Y C L IC A L B E H A V IO R O F M O N E Y One important, though perhaps indirect, influence of business on money requires special mention, namely the influence it exerts via monetary policy. The relevance of monetary policy to the behavior of monetary growth dur ing the business cycle was perhaps especially clear during the period beginning around 1952 and extending to the very early 1960’s. In this period, policy was more or less able to concentrate on the requirements of stabilizing the business cycle relatively (but not entirely) unimpeded by considerations of war finance, the balance of payments, and possible strains on particular sectors of the capital markets. The ultimate aim of stabilizing the business cycle is, of course, to prevent or moderate recessions and to forestall or limit inflation and structural imbalances during 8 It might be noted that while the Federal Reserve has for many years routinely offset the reserve effects of short-term movements in coin and currency, such as occur around holidays, for example, the ratio of coin and currency in the hands of the public to deposits 9 Phillip Cagan, Determinants and Effects of Changes in the Stock has apparently continued to show some mild fluctuations of a of Money, 1875-1960 (National Bureau of Economic Research, cyclical nature. 1965), page 261. 68 MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 periods of advance. The tools available to the Federal Reserve, however, such as open market operations and discount rate policy, influence employment and the price level only through complex and indirect routes. Hence, in the short run, policy must be formulated in terms of variables which respond more directly to the influence of the System. Some possibilities include, in addition to the rate of growth of the money supply, the growth of bank credit, conditions in the money market and the behavior of short-term interest rates, and the marginal reserve position of banks as measured, for example, by the level of free re serves or of member bank borrowings from the Federal Reserve. It is clear that the money supply need not always be the immediate objective of monetary policy, and indeed it was not by any means always such during the 1950’s. Given this fact, the behavior of the rate of growth of the money supply during the period cannot be assumed to be simply and directly the result of monetary policy decisions alone. Nevertheless, it is clear that the current and prospective behavior of business strongly influenced monetary policy decisions, given the primary aim of moderating the cycle, and that these decisions, in turn, influenced the behavior of the rate of growth of the money supply. Thus, for example, as recoveries proceeded and threatened to gen erate inflationary pressures, monetary policy tightened to counteract these pressures. Regardless of what particular variable the System sought to control—whether the money supply itself, conditions in the money market, or bank mar ginal reserve positions—the movement of any of these vari ables in the direction of tightening would, taken by itself, tend to exert a slowing influence on the rate of monetary expansion. In this way, the firming of monetary policy in the presence of cumulating expansionary forces would no doubt help to explain the tendency of the rate of monetary growth to peak out well in advance of peaks in the busi ness cycle. Similarly, the easing of policy to counteract a developing recession would help to produce an upturn in the rate of monetary growth in advance of troughs in busi ness activity. In addition to the feedback from business conditions to policy decisions and thence from policy to the money supply, there are circumstances in which developments in the economy can react on the money supply even with monetary policy unchanged. Consider, for example, a situation in which the focus of policy is on maintaining an unchanged money market “tone”— a phrase that has been interpreted to imply, among other things, some rough stabilization of the average level of certain short-term in terest rates such as the rate on Federal funds. Now a speedup in the rate of growth in economic activity would ordinarily accelerate the growtn of demand for bank credit and deposits. This, in turn, would normally result in up ward pressure on the money market and on money market interest rates. Maintaining the stability in money market tone called for by such a policy would require, however, under the assumed circumstances, supplying more reserves to the banks in order to offset the upward pressures on money market rates. Thus, with unchanged policy, an acceleration in the rate of business expansion could gen erate an acceleration in the rate of growth of reserves, and thence in the money supply. Similarly, a tapering-off in the rate of business expansion could, in these circum stances, generate a tapering-off in the rate of monetary expansion well before an absolute peak in business activ ity occurred. It should be emphasized that unchanged monetary policy could be perfectly consistent with counter cyclical objectives under these conditions if the slowdown (or speedup) in the rate of business advance either were expected to be temporary or were regarded as a healthy development. The reaction of monetary policy to changing business conditions and the reaction of the money supply to mone tary policy undoubtedly help explain the tendency of peaks and troughs in the rate of growth of the money supply to precede peaks and troughs in the level of eco nomic activity during this period. The resulting monetary leads, however, cannot then be interpreted as demonstrat ing a dependence of cycles in business on cycles in mone tary growth. These leads would very likely have existed even if the influence of money on business were altogether negligible. S E V E R I T Y O F C Y C L IC A L M O V E M E N T S Apart from matters of cyclical timing, some proponents of the money supply school have also regarded the rela tionship between the severity of cyclical movements in money and the severity of associated cyclical movements in business as suggesting a predominant causal role for money. They argue, perhaps with some plausibility, that, if the behavior of money were the predominant deter minant of business fluctuations, the relative sizes of cyclical movements in business and roughly contemporaneous cyclical movements in money should be highly correlated. For example, the severity of a cyclical decline in the rate of growth of the money supply should be closely related to the severity of the associated business recession or depression. The evidence for such a correlation, however, is actually rather mixed. Cyclical contractions in the monetary growth rate can be measured by computing the decline in the rate of mone FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK tary growth from its peak value to its trough value.10 On the basis of these computations, monetary contractions can be ranked in order of severity. Similarly, the severity of business contractions can be ranked by choosing some index of business activity and computing its decline dur ing each business contraction recognized and dated by the NBER. If the resulting rankings of monetary contrac tions are compared with the rankings of their associated business declines for eighteen nonwar business contrac tions from 1882 to 1961, the size of monetary and business contractions proves to be moderately highly correlated.11 It turns out, however, that this correlation depends entirely on the experience of especially severe cyclical contractions. Among the eighteen business con tractions experienced during the period, six are generally recognized as having been particularly deep. They include three pre-World War I episodes and the contractions of 1920-21, 1929-33, and 1937-38. In the latter three de clines, the Federal Reserve Board’s industrial production index fell by 32 per cent, 52 per cent, and 32 per cent, respectively, compared with a decline of only 18 per cent for the next largest contraction covered by the production index (1923-24). These six most severe contractions were in fact asso ciated with the six most severe cyclical declines in the rate of growth of the money supply, though the rankings within the six do not correspond exactly. As was argued earlier, business conditions themselves exert a reverse influence on the money supply, and it seems probable that partic ularly severe business declines may tend to accentuate the accompanying monetary contractions. Thus, for exam ple, the wholesale default of loans and sharp drops in the value of securities that accompanied the 1929-33 depres sion helped lay the groundwork for the widespread bank failures of that period. These failures were in part caused by, but also further encouraged, large withdrawals of cur rency from the banking system by a frightened public. By contracting the reserve base of the banking system, in turn, these withdrawals resulted in multiple contractions 69 of the deposit component of the money supply. Developments of this type help to explain the associa tion of major monetary contractions with major depres sions but do not seem to account fully for it.12 Thus it m aybe that catastrophic monetary developments are in fact a pre-condition for catastrophic declines in business activ ity. In any case, for more moderate cyclical movements, the association between the severity of monetary contrac tions and the severity of business contractions breaks down completely. There is virtually no correlation whatever be tween the relative rankings of the twelve nonmajor con tractions in the 1882-1961 period and the rankings of the associated declines in the rate of monetary growth.13 Certainly this finding does not support the theory that changes in the rate of monetary growth are of predominant importance in determining business activity. M E A S U R I N G L A G S IN T H E I N F L U E N C E O F M O N E Y O N B U S IN E S S Despite their belief in the crucial role of the money supply in determining the cyclical course of business activ ity, some members of the money supply school neverthe less argue, as suggested at the beginning of this article, that discretionary monetary policy is a clumsy and even danger ous countercyclical weapon. The starting point for this view is again the fact that peaks and troughs in the level of business activity tend to lag behind peaks and troughs in the rate of change of the money supply— in particular the fact that these lags have tended to be quite long on average and highly variable from one cycle to another. Thus long average lags of about sixteen months for peaks and twelve months for troughs have suggested to these economists that the impact of monetary policy is correspondingly delayed, with actions taken to moderate a boom, for example, having their primary impact during the subsequent recession when precisely the opposite in fluence is needed. Moreover, the great variability from cycle to cycle of the lags as measured by the money supply school has suggested that the timing of the impact of monetary policy is similarly variable and unpredictable. For this reason, they argue, it will be impossible for the monetary authorities to gauge when their policy actions 10 Generally, three-month averages centered on the specific cycle turning point months have been used to reduce the weight given to especially sharp changes in the peak and trough months them selves. 11 The Spearman rank correlation, for which satisfactory signifi cance tests apparently do not exist when medium-sized samples (10 < n < 2 0 ) are involved, is .70. The Kendall rank correlation coefficient, adjusted for ties, is .53 and is significant at the 1 per cent level. Rankings of business contractions are based on the Moore index. See Friedman and Schwartz, op. cit., Table 3, page 39. 12 See Phillip Cagan, op. cit., pages 262-68. 13 The Kendall coefficient for the twelve nonmajor contractions is a statistically insignificant .03, while the corresponding Spear man coefficient is .01. 70 MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 will take effect and therefore whether these actions will The fact that such lags do exist, however, shows only turn out to have been appropriate. that monetary policy cannot be expected to produce imme It is true, of course, that monetary policy affects the diate results. Like fiscal policy, its effectiveness depends economy with a lag. The full effects of open market pur in part on the ability to anticipate business trends so chases on bank deposits and credit, for example, require that policy actions taken today will be appropriate to time to work themselves out. More important, additional tomorrow’s conditions. Of course the longer the lags in time must elapse before businessmen and consumers ad the effects of policy prove to be, the further out in time just their spending plans to the resulting changes in the must such anticipations be carried and the greater is the financial environment. For this reason, the pattern of risk that policy actions will prove to be inappropriate. spending at any given time will to some degree reflect ^Moreover, if the lengths of the lags are highly variable and the influence of financial conditions as they existed several thus perhaps unpredictable, the risks of inappropriate months or quarters earlier. fHence it is certainly possible, policy decisions are obviously increased and the need for for example, that some of the effects of a restrictive mone continuous adjustments in policy is apt to arise. The timing of cycles in money and cycles in business, tary policy could continue to be felt during a recession even though the current posture of monetary policy were however, provides absolutely no basis for believing that the lags in the effects of monetary policy are so long or quite expansionary. Chart 1 ! CHANGES IN GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT AND IN MONEY SUPPLY PLUS TIME DEPOSITS P Qucsrter-to-quarter percentage ch an g e s; com pound an n u a l rates 28.3 Note: P e rcen tage ch a n g e s are based on sea so n ally cd ju ste d data. Sources: Board of G overno rs of the Fed eral Reserve System; United States Department of Com m erce. 71 FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK so variable as to vitiate the effectiveness of a counter cyclical policy. First, there are many reasons for doubting that the lag in the effects of monetary policy should be measured by comparing the timing relationships between cyclical turns in money and in business. It has been argued, for example, that other variables more directly under the control of policy makers, such as member bank nonborrowed reserves, or variables more clearly related to business decisions, such as interest rates, must also be taken into account. Yet, even if the behavior of the money supply be accepted as the indicator of policy, there are many alternative ways in which “the lag” between monetary and business behavior can be measured, and it makes a great deal of difference which measure is used. If, for example, the rate of change in the money supply is replaced by deviations in the level of the money supply from its longrun trend, the average lag between monetary peaks so measured and peaks in general business apparently shrinks from the sixteen months previously cited to a mere five months.14 Alternatively, it can be plausibly argued that the appropriate measure is the lag between the rate of change in the money supply, and the rate of change, rather than the level, of some measure of business activity such as gross national product (GNP) or industrial pro duction. When peaks and troughs for money and business are compared on this basis, the lead of money over busi ness appears to be quite short.15 The near simultaneity, in most cases, of peaks and troughs in the rates of change of the money supply and of GNP during the post-World War II period can be seen in Chart II. To be sure, move ments in the two series are quite irregular, so that the deci sion on whether to treat a particular date as a turning point is sometimes rather arbitrary. Nevertheless, the lead of peaks and troughs in the rate of growth of money over peaks and troughs in the rate of growth of GNP appears to average about one quarter or less.16 14 This estimate is presented by Milton Friedman in “The Lag Effect in Monetary Policy”, Journal of Political Economy, Octo ber 1961, page 456. 15 See John Kareken and Robert Solow, “Lags in Monetary Policy”, Stabilization Policies (Commission on Money and Credit, 1963), pages 21-24. 16 when quarterly dollar changes in the money supply are cor related with quarterly dollar changes in GNP experimenting with various lags, the highest correlation is achieved with GNP lagged two quarters behind money. (For the 1947-11 to 1967-III period the R2 is .34.) The correlation with a one quarter lag is almost exactly as high, however (R2 = .33). When percentage changes in the two series are used instead, the correlation virtually disappears, no matter what lag is used. The point of these various comparisons is not to prove that the lag in monetary policy is necessarily either very long or very short, but rather to illustrate how hard it is to settle the matter through the kind of evidence that has been offered by the money supply school. Similar difficul ties, as well as others, beset attempts to measure the variability of the lag in the influence of money on business by comparisons of cyclical peaks and troughs in the two. However the turning points are measured, the resulting estimates may seriously overstate the true variability of the lag in the influence of money on business. The reason is that observed differences from cycle to cycle in the timing of turning points in money relative to turning points in business are bound to reflect a number of factors over and beyond any variability in the influence of money on business.17 These “other” sources of variability include purely statistical matters such as errors in the data and the arbitrariness involved in assigning precise dates to turning points in money and in business. More funda mentally, the fact that there exists a reverse influence of business on money, an influence that is probably uneven from one cycle to the next, imparts a potentially serious source of variability to the observed lags. Moreover, if there are important influences on the general level of busi ness activity other than the behavior of money, these factors would also increase the variability of the observed timing relationships between turning points in money and in business. Taking all these possibilities into account, it seems fair to say that whatever the true variability in the impact of money on business, its size is overstated when it is measured in terms of the variability of the lags in cyclical turning points. W A Y S IN W H IC H M O N E Y M A Y I N F L U E N C E B U S IN E S S If there is a broad conclusion to be drawn from a study of the historical pattern of relationships between cycles in money and cycles in business, it is that there are distinct limits to what can be learned about the influence of money on business from this kind of statistical analysis. Perhaps this should not be surprising. During the business cycle many factors of potential importance to the subsequent behavior of business activity undergo more or less con- 17 Other sources of variability are discussed in some detail by Thomas Mayer in “The Lag in the Effect of Monetary Policy: Some Criticisms”, Western Economic Journal (September 1967), pages 335-42. 72 MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 tinuous change. At the same time the business cycle itself feeds back on the behavior of these factors. Hence it is extremely difficult to isolate the importance of any single factor, such as the behavior of money, and post hoc, propter hoc reasoning becomes especially dangerous. In these circumstances there appears to be no substitute for a detailed, and hopefully quantitative, examination of the ways in which changes in the money supply might work through the economy ultimately to affect the various com ponents of aggregate demand. Some brief and tentative sketches aside, the proponents of the monetary school have not attempted such an analysis. The possible ways in which an increase, for example, in the money supply might stimulate aggregate demand can be separated into what are sometimes called “income effects”, “wealth effects”, and “substitution effects”. In come effects exist when the same developments that pro duce an increase in the quantity of money also add di rectly to current income. Examples would be increases in bank reserves and deposits resulting from domestically mined gold or an export surplus. Similarly, a wealth effect occurs when a process increasing the money supply also increases the net worth of the private sector of the econ omy. A Treasury deficit financed by a rundown of Trea sury deposit balances might be regarded as an example of such a process, since the resulting buildup of private de posits would represent an increase in private wealth. Far more important than the income or wealth effects in the present-day United States economy are substitution effects such as result when the Federal Reserve engages in open market operations and banks expand loans and investments.18 When the Federal Reserve buys Govern ment securities from the nonbank public, the public of course acquires deposits and gives up the securities. There is no direct change in the public’s net worth position,19 or in its income; rather there is a substitution of money for securities in the public’s balance sheet. The same is true when the banks expand the money supply by buying se curities from the nonbank public: the public substitutes money for securities, but neither its wealth nor its income 18 These substitution effects are sometimes also known as “port folio balance” or “liquidity” effects. 19 This statement has to be modified to the extent that the Fed eral Reserve’s buying activity bids up the market value of the public’s holdings of Government securities. The significance of this wealth effect is probably minimal and is further limited in its consequences by the tendency of many holders to value Govern ments at original purchase price or at par rather than at current market value. is directly changed by the transaction. Similarly, when banks expand deposits by making loans, the monetary assets of the borrowers rise, but their liabilities to the banking system rise by an equal amount and their net worth and income are unchanged. Since these substitution effects associated with open market operations and with the expansion of bank de posits are by far the most important operations by which the money supply is changed, it seems especially relevant to study the ways in which these effects may influence economic activity. The main avenues appear to be through changes in interest rates on the various types of assets and changes in the availability of credit. When the Federal Reserve or the commercial banks buy securities from the nonbank public in exchange for deposits, funds are made available for the public to purchase, in turn, a wide va riety of private securities such as mortgages, corporate bonds, or bankers’ acceptances.20 The increased demand for these securities tends to push rates on them down. And with borrowing costs down, business firms may be induced to expand outlays on plant and equipment or inventory while consumers may increase spending on new homes. In most cases, the effects of lower interest rates on capital spending probably stem from the fact that external financ ing has become cheaper. In some cases, however, lower market yields on outstanding government and private securities might induce business holders to sell such assets in order to purchase higher yielding capital goods and thus, in effect, to make direct substitution of physical capital for financial assets in their “portfolios”. Finally, lower interest rates on securities may reduce consumer incentives to acquire and hold financial assets while tempt ing them to make more use of consumer credit, thereby reducing saving out of current income and increasing con- 20 The newly created deposits may of course in principle be used immediately to buy goods rather than financial assets, thus tending directly to stimulate business activity. Even in this case, however, the effects of the money-creating operations work through and depend upon reactions to interest rates. When the Federal Reserve or the commercial banks enter the market to buy securities, their bids add to total market demand, making market prices for securities higher (and yields lower) than they otherwise would have been. Indeed it is these relatively higher prices (lower yields) that induce the nonbank public to give up securities in exchange for deposits. If the deposits are in fact immediately used to purchase goods, then the process can be regarded as one in which lower market interest rates on securities stemming from bids by the Federal Reserve or the commercial banks have induced the public to give up securities in exchange for goods. The extent to which such switching will occur obviously depends upon the sensitivity to interest rates of business and consumer demands for goods. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK 73 sumption purchases.2 1 With regard to bank lending, open market purchases of Government securities increase bank reserves and may ease the terms on which banks are willing to make loans. Changes in lending terms other than interest rates, which include repayment procedures, compensating balance re quirements, and the maximum amount a bank is willing to lend to a borrower of given credit standing, are often bracketed as changes in “credit availability”. Such changes are regarded by many analysts as being more important influences on many types of spending than are changes in interest rates. Moreover, changes in credit availability re lated in part to changes in the money supply are not con fined to lending by commercial banks, as was dramati cally illustrated in 1966 with regard to nonbank mortgage lenders. In any case, an increased availability of funds permits and encourages potential borrowers to increase their loan liabilities, thereby providing funds which can be used to build up financial assets (perhaps mainly money market instruments) or to purchase physical assets in the form of business capital goods, inventories, or consumer durables. Stepped-up purchases of financial assets add to downward pressures on interest rates, stimulating spend ing through the processes already described, while addi tional demand for physical assets stimulates business activity directly. Studies of the influence of changes in interest rates and the availability of credit on spending in the various sectors of the economy have appeared with increasing frequency in the post-World War II period, especially within the past few years. Some of these studies have taken the form of interviews of businessmen and consumers with regard to the influence of credit cost and availability conditions on their spending decisions. Other studies have employed modem statistical and computer technology in an attempt to extract such information from data on past behavior.22 With regard to spending on housing, there has been gen eral agreement that the cost and availability of credit are highly important. A number of studies have also found varying degrees of influence on business spending for plant and equipment and for inventories as well as on consumer spending for durable goods such as autos and appliances. All these studies, however, have also found factors other than cost and availability of credit to be highly important. Moreover, a large degree of disagree ment exists with regard to the exact quantitative impor tance of the financial factors. Given the serious technical problems that surround these studies, major areas of disagreement are virtually certain to exist for some time to come. Nevertheless, studies of the type referred to here appear to offer the hope at least that firmly grounded and widely accepted conclusions on the importance of money in the business cycle may ulti mately be reached. Of particular interest are large-scale econometric models which attempt to provide quantitative estimates of the timing and magnitude of the effects of central bank actions on the money supply and other finan cial magnitudes and the subsequent effects, in turn, of these variables on each of the various major components of aggregate demand. One such model is currently under construction by members of the Federal Reserve Board staff in cooperation with members of the Economics De partment of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.23 Granting the major technical problems still unresolved, projects of this kind appear promising as a means of eventually tracking down the importance of money in ex While there is little general agreement that such direct effects plicit, quantitative terms. 21 on consumption are important, a recent study of the problem has in fact found a significant influence of interest rates on consumer de mand for automobiles and other durables. (See Michael J. Ham burger, “Interest Rates and the Demand for Consumer Durable Goods”, American Economic Review, December 1967.) In general, proponents of the monetary school feel that analyses of the role of interest rates in consumer demand undertaken to date have ne glected to take into account certain important factors. In particular, they think that the most relevant interest rates may not be the ones usually studied, namely the rates on financial instruments, but rather the interest rates “implicit” in the prices of the durable goods them selves—i.e., where the value of the services yielded by a consumer durable, such as an auto or a washing machine, is treated as analogous to the coupon or dividend yielded by a bond or stock. The obvious difficulties of defining and measuring the value of such services have probably been responsible for the notable dearth of research into this possibility, however, and the issue must be regarded as completely unsettled. 22 For a summary of some of these studies, see Michael J. Ham burger, “The Impact of Monetary Variables: A Selected Survey of the Recent Empirical Literature” (Federal Reserve Bank of New York, July 1967). Copies of this paper are available on request from Publications Services, Division of Administrative Services, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Washington, D.C. 20551. 23 Some preliminary results of this work are discussed in “The Federal Reserve-MIT Econometric Model” by Frank deLeeuw and Edward Gramlich, Federal Reserve Bulletin (January 1968), pages 9-40. 74 MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 The Business Situation The economy is continuing to expand strongly. Boosted by an increase in the minimum wage, personal income ad vanced sharply in February, and another large rise prob ably occurred in March, partly reflecting stepped-up social security benefit payments. Retail sales have been showing new buoyancy so far this year, suggesting a strong ad vance in total outlays by consumers during the current quarter. The housing sector moved ahead in February, with starts in January and February averaging somewhat above their fourth-quarter rate. At the same time, the latest Government survey of businessmen’s plant and equipment spending plans points to increases in such out lays in the current quarter and in 1968 as a whole. Indus trial production held at a high level in February, and new orders posted a modest advance. Although the unemploy ment rate edged up from January’s fourteen-year low, the labor market remains extremely tight. Consumer and wholesale prices continue to climb sharply, and the rise in labor costs in manufacturing has accelerated, intensifying the inflationary pressures in the economy. The hectic scramble for gold in the first half of March reflected in part the adverse impact of continued domestic inflation on confidence in the dollar and dramatically pointed up the need for fiscal restraint. P R O D U C T IO N , O R D E R S , A N D C O N S T R U C T IO N Industrial production held at about the January level in February despite the dampening effect of labor disputes. The Federal Reserve Board’s seasonally adjusted produc tion index edged up 0.1 percentage point to 161.3 per cent of the 1957-59 average but remained below the 162.0 per cent December peak. Local work stoppages in the auto industry continued to hold back auto assemblies in February, and the glassblowers’ strike also cut into durables output. The production of industrial materials weakened, despite the high rate of activity in the steel industry. Investment outlays and military requirements pushed business and defense equipment output higher in both January and February. The utilities index rose sharply, in part reflecting increased use of electricity dur ing February’s unusually cold weather. In March, strike-hedge buying continued to keep steel production at a record level. On a seasonally adjusted basis, March output was more than 13 per cent above the October level before strike-hedge buying began. Automo bile production expanded in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 9.0 million units, nearly 11 per cent higher than February’s rate. New car sales surged 1016 per cent to an annual rate of 8.7 million units in March. New orders to manufacturers of durable goods increased slightly in February to a seasonally adjusted level of $24.8 billion. This indicator of future production has behaved erratically in the past few months. In December, or ders surged to an unsustainable level, and then declined sharply in January. Steel and defense products industries spurred the February advance. Durable goods shipments eased somewhat in February and, since the volume of new orders exceeded shipments, the backlog of unfilled orders rose. The latest Government survey of business plans for capital spending, taken in late January and early February by the Department of Commerce and the Securities and Exchange Commission, indicates that businessmen antici pated a $2.1 billion upturn in such outlays in the first quarter of 1968 to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $64.8 billion. Most of the first-quarter gain is due to an upsurge in investment spending by manufacturers. After a small decline of $0.5 billion in the second quarter, the survey points to advances averaging $1.2 billion per quarter in the last half of the year. Thus, for the year as a whole, the survey reports that businessmen plan a moderate 5.8 per cent increase in the pace of plant and equipment investment. The sharp upswing in corporate profits late in 1967 may have contributed to the planned rise in investment spend ing. After edging downward in the first half of 1967, corporate profits before taxes stabilized in the second and third quarters and then leaped $5.4 billion in the fourth quarter to a record $85.4 billion at a seasonally adjusted annual rate. Manufacturers’ inventories increased by a seasonally adjusted $0.3 billion in February, with the gain occurring entirely in durables stocks. At the same time, shipments 75 FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK fell by a seasonally adjusted $0.7 billion, and the inventorysales ratios for both durable and nondurable goods turned up but remained close to the lowest levels reached in 1967. The latest survey of manufacturers’ inventory and sales expectations, taken by the Department of Commerce in February, shows that manufacturers expect their inven tories to rise by about $2 billion in each of the first two quarters of this year, a bit more than the $1.6 billion fourth-quarter increase. At the same time, they expect invent ory-s ales ratios to edge down from fourth-quarter levels for durables and to remain about unchanged for nondurables. Construction was strong in February, in contrast to the mixed picture of the two previous months. Private non farm housing starts rose in February by 7.1 per cent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1,528,000 units, fol lowing a sharp gain in January and a precipitous decline in December. In February, starts increased in most sections of the country, with the southern and north central areas leading the advance. Half of the December decline had been in the South, and starts there were practically un changed in January. The index of permits for new private housing shot up 24.6 per cent in February to 121.2 per cent of the 1957-59 base, the highest level since the early months of 1964. The permits index, which is usually less volatile than the series on housing starts, had risen by 14.3 per cent in December only to fall by 16.7 per cent in January. less rate to the lowest level in more than fourteen years. A large increase in the teen-age labor force, which had been declining throughout most of 1967, accounted for most of the February rise in unemployment. Three quarters of the teen-agers entering the job market were searching for part-time work. The unemployment rate for adult women also rose in February. The rate for adult men held steady at 2.3 per cent, and underlying labor market tightness was evident in the continued low rate of unemployment for married men, which edged up only 0.1 percentage point to 1.7 per cent. The large rise in employment and the higher minimum wage raised personal income by a seasonally adjusted annual rate of $7.5 billion in February. This was the larg est increase since September 1965, when a rise in social security benefits increased incomes by $14.9 billion. Ac cording to the Department of Commerce, $2 billion to $3 Chart I PERSONAL INCOME AND RETAIL SALES Billions of dollars Billions of dollars E M P L O Y M E N T , P E R S O N A L IN C O M E , AND CO N SU M ER DEM AND The continued strength of the labor market was evi denced by the strong February expansion in employment. Nonfarm payroll employment rose by an impressive 550,000 persons in February, following a small advance in January. While most sectors of the economy contributed to the gain, nearly half of the increase was concentrated in the construction industry as workers returned to con struction sites they had been forced to leave because of unusually bad weather in January. Construction employ ment has picked up substantially since October, after showing little growth during most of 1967. Manufacturing payroll employment, which has been recovering from the reduced levels of 1967, advanced by 66,000 persons to a new high in February. While employment grew vigorously in February, the civilian labor force expanded even more rapidly, and the unemployment rate edged up 0.2 percentage point to 3.7 per cent of the labor force. February’s rise followed a 0.2 point decline in January, which had dropped the job 196 5 1966 1 96 7 Source: United States Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census. 196 8 76 MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 billion of the advance resulted from the February hike in the minimum wage. While other special factors also served to magnify the February rise, it was substantial even apart from these adjustments. Wage and salary payments in creased by $6.3 billion, and manufacturing payrolls rose by $2.3 billion. Better weather conditions lengthened working hours in the construction industry, and payrolls consequently rose sharply there. Personal income will receive still another boost in March of approximately $3.6 billion, at an annual rate, from the step-up in social security benefit payments. Bolstered by the impressive gains in personal income, retail sales in February rose by 1.5 per cent to $27.4 bil lion, following a larger advance in January (see Chart I). Durables sales, boosted by increased auto sales, were up by 2.1 per cent. Sales at nondurables outlets increased, with the apparel and general merchandise groups (notably de partment store sales) showing strong advances. Further evidence of the resurgence in consumer spending was given by the large February rise in consumer credit, the sharpest gain since March 1966. Instalment credit advanced strongly; gains in automotive credit and personal loans were particularly striking. Chartll WHOLESALE PRICES Percent 1 95 7 -5 9 = 10 0 Percent P R IC E S A N D C O S T S Note: Plottings shown forMarch 1968 are preliminary. Prices and costs rose sharply in February. The wholesale price index jumped 0.8 percentage point, the largest in crease in two years, to 108.0 per cent of the 1957-59 base (see Chart II). Preliminary data for March indicate a further advance of 0.3 percentage point. The rise in industrial commodity prices, which began last August, has accelerated in the current quarter. Prices of farm products reached a trough in November, but since then have been rising at a rapid pace; in February they surged 2.3 per centage points to 101.3 per cent of the 1957-59 base and are expected to rise another 0.9 percentage point in March. The consumer price index climbed 0.4 percentage point in February to 119.0 per cent of the 1957-59 base. The upturn in wholesale food prices was reflected in a 0.4 percentage point rise in retail food prices. All the major components of the consumer price index showed large Source: United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics. increases in line with their recent rate of advance. Prices of services rose 0.5 percentage point, as health, housing, and recreation costs moved higher. Labor costs jumped sharply in February— 1.8 per cent — the largest monthly increase since 1956. The combina tion of a higher minimum wage, longer overtime, and a decline in output per man-hour in manufacturing raised the index of unit labor costs in manufacturing to 110.3 per cent of the 1957-59 average. Unit labor costs have risen by a rapid 2.9 per cent in the first two months of the cur rent quarter, considerably faster than the 0.4 per cent in crease during the second half of 1967. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK 77 The M oney and Bond M arkets in M arch Developments in domestic financial markets during March were largely dominated by events in the foreign exchange and gold markets. Renewed speculative pressures on the pound sterling and the Canadian dollar, which com menced in the final days of February, spread to the United States dollar. Through midmonth, the demand for gold built up to unprecedented proportions, forcing into sharper focus the fundamental problems of the interna tional monetary system and the domestic economy. The pressure on member bank reserve positions increased steadily over the month, and between March 15 and 22 the discount rates of all twelve Federal Reserve Banks were increased by Vi percentage point to 5 per cent, the highest level in almost forty years. Nine Federal Reserve Banks announced increases in their discount rates on March 14, effective on March 15, and the Federal Re serve Banks of San Francisco and Philadelphia later an nounced similar increases in their rates effective on March 15 and 18, respectively. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York did not take similar action until March 21, ef fective the following day. The structure of interest rates shifted moderately up ward in March, reflecting concern in the credit markets over international developments and the degree of mone tary stringency that would ultimately be required to de fend the dollar. The effective rate for Federal funds was generally quoted at 5Vi per cent after the discount rate increase. At midmonth, the large New York City banks increased their offering rates on new negotiable time cer tificates of deposit (C /D ’s) in the shortest maturity cate gory to 5 V2 per cent, the maximum permissible rate under Regulation Q. Rates on bankers’ acceptances, finance com pany paper, and commercial paper rose as much as V2 percentage point. Market yields on Treasury bills closed the month about 15 basis points higher, as a sharp in crease through March 14 was partially reversed later un der the impact of a strong investment demand due to seasonal and other influences. The market for Treasury notes and bonds was shaken by the events in international financial markets, and price losses on long-term issues mounted to more than 4 points by mid-March. Subsequently, after international agree ment on a two-price system for gold had been reached, the market recovered a substantial part of these losses. Par ticipants were also encouraged when the discount rate in crease proved smaller than many had expected and when the Administration expressed willingness to consider the budget cuts that may be necessary in order to secure pas sage of the needed surtax legislation by the Congress. Yields trended sharply higher in the corporate and munici pal bond markets. The volume of new corporate financing fell off from recent levels, while tax-exempt offerings in creased sharply as a result of a rush to market industrial revenue bonds before the effective date of an expected Treasury ruling which would subject interest payments on these securities to Federal income taxation. BANK RESER V ES AND THE M ONEY M ARKET The availability of reserves at member banks contracted sharply in March, since severe reserve drains through gold and foreign account transactions were not fully offset by System open market operations. On a daily average basis, aggregate net borrowed reserves increased steadily over the month, from $136 million in the final statement week of February to $410 million in the closing March week (see Table I). For the month as a whole, average net bor rowed reserves of $306 million contrasted with average free reserves of $16 million in February. The increased pressure on member bank reserve positions produced heavier bor rowings from the Reserve Banks; daily average borrowings for the four March statement weeks jumped to $649 mil lion from $368 million in the preceding four weeks. The pronounced contraction of nationwide net reserve availability had the greatest impact on the banks in major money centers outside New York City. The basic reserve position of the eight New York City money market banks improved, on average, in March but fluctuated widely from week to week within the period (see Table II). After declining to $16 million in the first statement week, the average basic reserve deficit of the city banks rose to $371 million in the week ended on March 13, largely as a result of sizable outflows of demand deposits asso ciated with the quarterly corporate dividend payments MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 78 Table I Table H FACTORS T E N D IN G TO INC R EA SE OR D ECREASE M EM BER B A N K R ESERVES, M ARCH 1968 RESERVE POSITIONS OF MAJOR RESERVE CITY BA NK S MARCH 1968 In m illions o f dollars; (+ ) denotes increase, (—) decrease in excess reserves In millions of dollars Daily averages-—week ended on Factors affecting basic reserve positions Changes in daily averages— week ended on Net changes Factors March 6 March 13 March 20 March 27 M em ber b a n k req u ired reserves* .................. — 165 + 408 — 179 + 99 + O perating tra n s a c tio n s (su b to tal) ................ — 233 — 754 — 405 — 10 — 1,402 March 6 March 13 Averages of four weeks ended on March March 27* 27* March 20 Eight banks in N ew York City “ Market” factors 163 F e d e ra l Reserve f l o a t ................................. + 173 — 256 + 195 — 151 — 39 T re asu ry o p e ra tio n s t ...................................... + + 372 — 5 + 6 — 781 + 309 Gold a n d foreign a c c o u n t ............................. + 8 — 244 — 427 — 1,457 C urrency o utside b a n k s * ............................... — 395 — 330 + + 229 — 42? O ther F e d e ra l R eserve acco u n ts ( n e t ) | . . — + 67 + 108 + 28 + — 584 + 89 — 1,239 33 - 11 126 43 15 1 114 860 975 42 966 924 90 6i 882 821 i 149 — 348 Reserve excess or deficiency(—) f ..... 24 125 Less borrowings from — Reserve Banks ........................................ 219 Less net interbank Federal funds purchases or sales (—) ....................... 40 277 797 906 Gross purchases .............................. Gross sales ...................................... 629 756 Equals net basic reserve surplus or deficit (—) .......................................... — 16 — 371 N et loans to Government securities dealers .................................... 1,077 841 T o ta l “ m a rk e t" f a c t o r s ............................. 49 54 — 398 69 Direct Federal Reserve credit transactions Open m ark e t in stru m e n ts O u trig h t h o ld in g s: G overnm ent se cu ritie s ............................... -j- 295 B a n k e rs' a c c e p ta n c e s ................................. — 1 + 147 — + 52 + 674 — 219 + + - 1 — R e p u rc h ase a greem ents: G overnm ent secu rities ............................... + 49 — B a n k e rs' a c c e p ta n c e s ................................. F e d e ra l agency o b l ig a tio n s ...................... + 9 M em ber b a n k borrow ings ................................. + 58 + 1 O ther loans, d iscounts, a n d a d v a n ce s......... T o ta l ................................................................ Excess reserves* ................................................ + 411 13 + + 2 + 279 + 7 — 11 — 46 + + 46 — — - + 140 + — 151 7 1 _ + 46 — 897 _ — 101 — 1 15 + 488 + 522 — 323 + 1,098 + — — 234 — 142 62 21 - 68 — 109 860 866 911 Thirty-eight banks outside N ew York City Reserve excess or deficiency(—) t ..... 9 2 47 Less borrowings from Reserve Banks ....................................... 236 232 179 Less net interbank Federal funds purchases or sales (—) ....................... 753 831 863 Gross purchases ............................... 1,735 1,761 1,776 Gross sales .......................................... 982 913 931 Equals net basic reserve surplus or deficit (—) .......................................... — 980 —1,015 —1,039 N et loans to Government securities dealers .................................... 581 813 435 5 16 110 189 552 1,861 1,309 750 1,783 1,034 -6 5 7 — 923 338 542 N ote: Because of rounding, figures do not necessarily add to totals. * Estimated reserve figures have not been adjusted for so-called “as of” debits and credits. These items are taken into account in final data, t Reserves held after all adjustments applicable to the reporting period less required reserves and carry-over reserve deficiencies. 141 Table III Daily average levels A V ER A G E ISSU IN G RATES* AT REG U LA R TR EASURY BELL AUCTIONS Member bank: 25,548 25,665 25,332 25,590§ OO 00 In per cent 25,814 25,080 25,259 25,160 25,247§ 326 468 406 172 343§ CK T o ta l reserves, in clu d in g v a u lt c a s h * ......... 500 N onborrow ed reserves* ...................................... 779 733 582 649§ — 174 — 311 — 327 — 410 — 306§ 25,314 24,769 24,932 24,750 Weekly auction dates— March 196S Maturities 24,941§ March 4 March 11 March IS March 25 Three-month.. 5.000 5.107 5.285 5.186 Six-month...... 5.173 5.321 5.378 5.301 Changes in Wednesday levels Monthly auction dates— January-March 196S System Account holdings of Government securities maturing in: M ore th a n one y e a r ............................................ + T o ta l ................................................................ 84 + 466 — 170 — 170 + 716 — 419 + + N o te : B ecause of ro u n d in g , figures do n o t necessarily a d d to to tals. * T hese figures are estim ated, t In clu d es changes in T reasu ry currency a n d cash. $ In clu d es assets d en o m in ated in foreign currencies. § Average of four weeks ended on M arch 27. 50 + 766 + 67 + 5.254 5.239 5.424 5.267 5.281 5.475 201 + March 26 509 — 352 February 21 One-year........................................... + 382 January 25 Nine-m onth...................................... Less th a n one year ............................................ 710 * Interest rates on bills are quoted in terms of a 360-day year, with the discounts from par as the return on the face amount of the bills payable at maturity. Bond yield equivalents, related to the amount actually invested, would be slightly higher. FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK 79 few days in reaction to news reports of a possible need for an extraordinarily large troop buildup in Vietnam, evi dence of increased reserve pressure in the banking system, and the reappearance of speculative demand for gold abroad following two months of relative calm in inter national financial markets. Later, the decline in prices of Treasury coupon issues accelerated as gold buying reached a feverish pitch. The market was also adversely affected by announcements of sizable offerings of securities to be made later in the month by the Federal National Mortgage Asso ciation (FNMA) and the International Bank for Recon struction and Development. By Thursday, March 14, price declines from end-of-February levels were as much as 4n/i6 points in the long-term area, and increases in market yields available on intermediate- and long-term Treasury issues averaged about 40 basis points. Subsequently, on Friday and Monday, March 15 and 18, a sharp reversal of the earlier losses occurred, after which prices fluctuated moderately and irregularly through the month end. The sudden improvement in the market tone at midmonth stemmed from a succession of official moves undertaken to restore confidence in the dollar and to end the gold crisis. On March 15, the discount rate increase became effective at ten Federal Reserve Banks, gold trading was suspended in most major markets abroad, and the markets looked forward to the results of a spe cial weekend meeting of the heads of seven central banks and two international financial organizations. The meet ing produced agreement on the adoption of a two-price system for gold, whereby the participating monetary authorities will no longer supply gold to the free market but will transfer gold among themselves at official prices, leaving the free market price to fluctuate independently. (The Congress had passed legislation removing the gold cover requirement on Federal Reserve notes on March 14.) Moreover, President Johnson indicated a willingness to accept across-the-board budget cuts in nondefense spend ing as a means of inducing the Congress to enact the longsought tax increase, and he apparently also decided on a more moderate buildup of troops in Vietnam than had been requested by the military authorities. The Treasury bill market opened March on a strong note, reflecting a sizable investment demand for shorter issues originating in part from would-be buyers of equities and long-term debt instruments, who were affected by a general weakening of market confidence. In the first regular weekly auction held on March 4, the three- and six-month T H E G O V E R N M E N T S E C U R IT IE S M A R K E T bill issues were awarded at average issuing rates of 5.00 In the Treasury coupon market, the confidence that per cent and 5.17 per cent (see Table III), down some had prevailed throughout February broke down rapidly what from rates established in the last regular February in early March. Prices weakened moderately in the first auction. However, bidding was not as aggressive as had concentrated in that week. In the following statement week, containing the March 15 corporate income tax pay ment date, the city banks moved into a position of basic reserve surplus, as corporate tax borrowing was relatively limited and the banks gained funds through the crediting of corporate income tax payments to Treasury Tax and Loan Accounts. In addition, the city banks benefited from recent sizable increases in Euro-dollar balances due to their own foreign branches, and they were quite successful in replacing the bulk of the C /D ’s that matured in volume around the corporate tax date. In the final week of March, the city banks reverted to a position of basic reserve deficit, primarily due to a decline in average Euro-dollar holdings. The money market was firm during March. Transac tions in Federal funds generally took place at a premium over the discount rate. This premium rose to 1 per cent on the eve of the discount rate increase but was generally Va to l/ i per cent at other times during the month. Other t short-term interest rates rose during March. Dealers in bankers’ acceptances lifted their offering rate on ninetyday unendorsed paper by Vi percentage point to 53 per A cent. Commercial paper dealers raised their offering rates on prime four- to six-month paper by Vx percentage point to 53 per cent, and major finance companies raised their A rates on paper placed directly with investors by % per centage point. The published rate on finance company paper maturing in 30 to 179 days is now 5Vi per cent. Earlier, major finance companies had paid a rate of 5 Vs per cent on paper with maturities of sixty days or more. Market yields on outstanding three- and six-month Trea sury bills increased over the month by 15 basis points, as the sharp increases through March 14 were later partially erased (see chart on page 80). The large New York City banks raised their offering rates on C /D ’s to the ceiling rate of 5 V2 per cent “across the board” by midmonth. Until March 13, a rate of 43 A per cent had generally been posted on one- to three-month maturities. The increases in offering rates aided the city banks in replacing all but $145 million of the heavy vol ume of C /D ’s maturing in the week of March 20. At large commercial banks throughout the country, $5.8 billion of C /D ’s matured in March, about 30 per cent of the total amount they had outstanding. In the four statement weeks ended on March 27, C /D ’s outstanding at these institutions declined by $540 million. MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 80 SELECTED INTEREST RATES Ja n u ary-M arch 1968 M O N EY M ARKET RATES Ja n u a ry Feb ruary M arch B O N D M ARKET YIELDS Ja n u a ry Feb ruary M arch Note: Data are shown for b usiness d ays only. M O N EY MARKET RATES QUOTED: D aily ran ge of rates posted by major New York City banks on new call loans (in Federal funds) secured by United States G overnm ent securities (a point point from underw riting syn d icate reo fferin g yield on a given issue to m arketyield on the sam e issue im m ediately after it has been released from syndicate restrictions); d aily ind icates the ab sen ce of any ran ge); offering rates for d irectly p lace d finance com pany paper; the effective rate on Fed eral funds (the rate most representative of the transactions executed); a v erage s of yields on lo n g-term Governm ent securities (bonds due or c a lla b le in ten years clo sing bid rates (quoted in terms of rate of discount) on newest outstanding three- and six-month clo sing bid prices; Thursday a v erage s of yields on twenty seasoned twenty-year tax-exem pt Treasury b iiis . BO N D MARKET YIELDS Q UO TED: Y ie ld s on new A a a - and A a-rated p ublic utility bonds are plotted around a line show ing d a ily av e ra ge yie ld s on seasoned A aa-ra ted corporate bonds (arrows been anticipated. Market participants showed some con cern over new pressures on the pound sterling and the dol lar in international markets and their implication for do mestic monetary policy. Subsequently, dealers began to press offerings of bills aggressively on the market, as the money market firmed and financing costs rose and as the atmosphere of tension in the financial markets heightened. Consequently, market yields on Treasury bills maturing within six months rose by about 43 basis points through March 14. In the regular weekly bill auction held on March 18, after market yields had subsided from their monthly peaks, the three- and six-month issues were awarded at average issuing rates of 5.29 per cent and 5.38 per cent, 29 and 21 basis points higher than cor responding rates established in the March 4 auction. Over or more) and of G overnm ent securities due in three to five ye a rs, computed on the b asis of bonds (carrying M oody's ratings of A a a , A a, A , and Baa). Sources: Fed eral Reserve Bank of New York, Board of G overno rs of the Federal Reserve System, M oody's Investors Service, and The W eekly Bond Buyer. the remainder of the month, bill rates trended lower under the influence of a broad demand from investors, reflecting both seasonal factors and the search for a safe haven. Prices of Federal agency obligations also weakened during March under the influence of the new uncertainties stemming from the gold crisis and a large increase in the supply of securities in the market. On March 26, the FNMA sold $1 billion of participation certificates, $730 million to the public and the remaining $270 million di rectly to Government investment accounts. The public offering, which sold out immediately, consisted of a $200 million issue due in 1971, priced to yield 6.30 per cent, plus a $330 million issue due in 1973 and a $200 million issue due in 1988, both priced to yield 6.45 per cent. The 6.45 yield on the longer term noncallable issues is the high FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF NEW YORK est on any “full faith and credit” obligation of the Gov ernment in more than a century. In secondary market trading, the certificates met with an overwhelming demand from individuals and small investors, and yields available on the three securities were driven down to 6.15 per cent, 6.30 per cent, and 6.42 per cent for maturities ranging from the shortest to the longest. O T H E R S E C U R IT IE S M A R K E T S The calendar of tax-exempt bond offerings was heavy in early March, largely reflecting a new surge in industrial revenue bond financing in advance of an expected Trea sury ruling on March 15 which would deny the taxexemption privilege to bonds issued subsequent to that date. However, the ruling was not issued until later in the month, when it was made effective as late as September 1968 for those offerings for which sufficient preparatory steps had been taken by March 15. Then, on March 28, the Senate voted to end the tax-exemption privilege on such bonds, effective January 1, 1969, and made no transi tional provision. Many of the industrial revenue issues that were marketed were accorded excellent receptions, though at yields which were often close to historic highs. One issue was reoffered, after competitive bidding, to yield 6.75 per cent. Other new tax-exempt offerings mar 81 keted during the month fared less well, and dealers re sorted to widespread price cutting in order to move un sold balances of recent issues. Over the month, the Blue List of dealers’ advertised inventories declined slightly from $489 million to $454 million. The Weekly Bond Buyer's yield series of twenty seasoned tax-exempt issues (carrying ratings from Aaa to Baa) rose sharply to 4.62 per cent at midmonth but declined to close the period at 4.54 per cent (see chart), 10 basis points above the level at the end of February. In the corporate bond market, new issue activity tapered off in the first half of March and expanded later in the month. Syndicate pricing restrictions were terminated on a number of recent issues in early March, in adjustment to rising yields in all sectors of the capital market. One Aaarated public utility offering of bonds due in 1993 and carrying five-year call protection met an excellent re ception on March 11 at a reoffering yield of 6 V2 per cent, 20 basis points higher than the yield on a comparable offering on February 19. By the end of the month, how ever, a smaller Aaa-rated public utility offering with sim ilar features was accorded only a fair reception at a reoffering yield of 6.67 per cent, a record high for this type of offering. Over the month, the Moody’s index of yields on Aaa-rated seasoned corporate bonds rose to 6.19 per cent from 6.08 per cent. MONTHLY REVIEW, APRIL 1968 Publications of the Federal R eserve Bank of New York The following is a selected list of publications available from the Public Information Department, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty Street, New York, N. Y. 10045. Copies of charge pub lications are available at half price to educational institutions, unless otherwise noted. 1. c e n t r a l b a n k c o o p e r a t i o n : 1924-31 (1967) by Stephen V. O. Clarke. 234 pages. Dis cusses the efforts of American, British, French, and German central bankers to reestablish and maintain international financial stability between 1924 and 1931. ($2 per copy.) 2. e s s a y s i n m o n e y a n d c r e d i t (1964) 76 pages. Contains articles on select subjects in bank ing and the money market. (40 cents per copy.) 3. k e e p i n g o u r h o n e t h e a l t h t (1966) 16 pages. An illustrated primer on how the Federal Re serve works to promote price stability, full employment, and economic growth. Designed mainly for sec ondary schools, but useful as an elementary introduction to the Federal Reserve. ($6 per 100 for copies in excess of 100.*) 4. m o n e t a n d e c o n o m i c b a l a n c e (1967) 27 pages. A teacher’s supplement to Keeping Our Money Healthy. Written for secondary school teachers and students of economics and banking. ($8 per 100 for copies in excess of 100.*) 5. m o n e t , b a n k i n g , a n d c r e d i t i n e a s t e r n e u r o p e (1966) by George Garvy. 167 pages. Reviews recent changes in the monetary systems of the seven communist countries in Eastern Europe and the steps taken toward greater reliance on financial incentives. ($1.25 per copy; 65 cents per copy to edu cational institutions.) 6. m o n e t : m a s t e r o r s e r v a n t ? (1966) by Thomas O. Waage. 48 pages. Explains the role of money and the Federal Reserve in the economy. Intended for students of economics and banking. ($13 per 100 for copies in excess of 100.* ) 7. p e r s p e c t i v e (January 1968) 9 pages. A layman’s guide to the economic and financial highlights of the previous year. ($7 per 100 for copies in excess of 100.*) 8. t h e n e w t o r k f o r e i g n e x c h a n g e m a r k e t (1965) by Alan R. Holmes and Francis H. Schott. 64 pages. Describes the organization and instruments of the foreign exchange market, the techniques of exchange trading, and the relationship between spot and forward rates. (50 cents per copy.) 9. t h e s t o r t o f c h e c k s (1966) 20 pages. An illustrated description of the origin and develop ment of checks and the growth and automation of check collection. Primarily for secondary schools, but useful as a primer on check collection. ($4 per 100 for copies in excess of 100.*) * Unlimited number of copies available to educational institutions without charge. Subscriptions to the m o n t h l y r e v i e w are available to the public without charge. Additional copies of any issue may be obtained from the Public Information Department, Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 33 Liberty Street, New York, N.Y. 10045.