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A meeting of the executive committee of the Federal Open Market
Committee was held in the offices of the Board of Governors of the Federal
Reserve System in Washington on Tuesday, March 16, 1954, at 10:50 a.m.


Martin, Chairman
C. S. Young, Alternate for Mr. Sproul

Messrs. Mills and Vardaman, Members of the Federal
Open Market Committee

Riefler, Secretary
Thurston, Assistant Secretary
Vest, General Counsel
Thomas, Economist
R. A. Young, Associate Economist

Mr. Rouse, Manager, System Open Market Account
Mr. Carpenter, Secretary, Board of Governors
Mr. Sherman, Assistant Secretary, Board of

Mr. Youngdahl, Assistant Director, Division of
Research and Statistics, Board of Governors
Mr. Gaines, Securities Department, Federal Re
serve Bank of New York
Upon motion duly made and seconded,

and by unanimous vote, the action of the
members of the executive committee on
March 5, 1954, authorizing the transmission
of unpublished information relating to trans
actions in Government securities during the
calendar years 1952 and 1953, pursuant to
authorization by the Federal Open Market Com
mittee, for the use of a member of the Joint
Committee on the Economic Report, was approved,
ratified, and confirmed.
Before this meeting there had been sent to the members of the com
mittee a report prepared at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York covering
open market operations during the period March 3 to March 11, 1954.




At this meeting there was distributed a supplementary report

covering commitments executed March 12 to March 15, 1954, inclusive.
Copies of both reports have been placed in the files of the Federal Open
Market Committee.
Mr. Rouse commented upon operations during the period covered by
the reports,

stating that there had appeared to be ample free reserves in

the market.

Bidding for Treasury bills to be issued during the current

week had been with a view to replacing those maturing, feeling that, in
view of the uncertain outlook for reserves in the coming week, it would
be easier to carry on operations under the general policy of active ease
if that were done rather than to allow any bills to run off.

Mr. Rouse

noted that while there were generally free reserves thoughout the country,
the situation at central reserve city banks frequently varied from that in
other cities, and he attempted to gauge his operations in terms of the over
all need rather than just the situation of New York City and Chicago banks.
The actual amount of repurchase agreements had been relatively small, he
said, and such agreements had been used with a view to helping dealers
over weekends.
Upon motion duly made and seconded, and
by unanimous vote, transactions in the System
open market account for the period March 3
March 15, 1954, inclusive,were approved,
ratified, and confirmed.
At Chairman Martin's request, Mr. R. A.

Young made a statement with

respect to recent economic and financial developments substantially as
presented in a staff memorandum dated March 12,

1954, copies of which were



sent to the members of the committee before this meeting.

Mr. Young's

summary of the situation was that statistical evidence indicated that the
decline in economic activity was continuing and that average prices were
remaining relatively stable.

While there were some signs of a slowing down

in the rate of decline, about all that could be stated with assurance was
that activity was still going down, primarily because of inventory
liquidation and continuing reductions in defense buying.

The rate of de

cline has not accelerated, however, and may even have tapered off.

Mr. C. S. Young said that in the Chicago area sales of new auto
mobiles and farm equipment have picked up somewhat and there has been
evidence of a feeling of confidence on the part of businessmen in that

In Mr. Young's opinion, this feeling of confidence was greater than

was warranted.

While the situation is

somewhat better than it

Young's view was that underlying conditions were still

was, Mr.

worse than the

statistics indicate.
Mr. Williams thought that economic activity in the Philadelphia
district was perhaps somewhat better maintained than in many other parts
of the country, although he cited figures to indicate that most economic
indicators were below levels a year ago.

With respect to loans, there

had been a slight pick-up since the lows recorded during January and
February of this year but current loan volume was still

substantially be

low the peak levels reached during last November and December.
Mr. Thomas commented on recent credit developments,

stating that



total loans and investments declined during February although not quite
as much as during the same month a year ago.

Business loans and consumer

loans were down more while agricultural loans increased more than a year


Banks reduced holdings of Government securities in both years, re

flecting strong corporate demand for short-term securities at this season,
but this year they increased their holdings of non-Government securities.
Total deposits declined as is usual at this time of year, with a somewhat
larger decrease in privately held deposits and currency than in February
last year.

In the first two report weeks ending in March, loans increased

less than in the same period last year and so did deposits.

As to projections

for the next few weeks, Mr. Thomas referred to a table showing an estimated
pattern of reserve changes,

stating that while the next two weeks were sub

ject to unusually wide margins of error because of Treasury operations,


appeared that this would be a period of ease; for the next month or six weeks,
free reserves might be expected generally to exceed $350 million and might
range as high as $700 million at times.

Rouse said that the New York Bank's estimates of the reserve

position of banks were similar to those prepared at the Board for the next
few weeks,

noting that a variation of as much as a half billion dollars could

easily occur between the projected figures and actual figures during the im
mediate future as a result of tax collections and other factors related to
Treasury operations.

He also referred to the volume of commercial paper,

stating that during January there were at least three reductions in the rate



on such paper, and that during February the volume of commercial paper out
standing rose $80 million to a total of $700 million, the highest reported
over a period of some twenty-five years.

Mr. Rouse stated that a Chicago

firm had come into the commercial paper market recently and borrowed $25
million for a period of 60 days for use in

connection with tax payments.

He also noted that on the basis of reports from savings

banks, funds

available for mortgage lending continued at a high level, and commitments
were being made in a sustained volume.

However, the actual supply of

mortgages currently being absorbed by the savings banks is

relatively low

and, as a result, these institutions have had a supply of longer-term funds
available for investment in Government securities.
Chairman Martin raised the question whether the members of the com
mittee felt that the policy under which the committee was operating, that
is a policy of active ease, was appropriate to the present situation or
whether it should be modified.

All of the members of the committee agreed

with the view that the policy currently being pursued was wise and appropri
ate under existing circumstances.
In response to a question from Chairman Martin, Mr. Rouse stated
that he felt the money market was easier than appeared on the surface.
Banks were perhaps a little tighter in their lending policies than a year
or two ago, Mr. Rouse said, but this was for reasons not related to the
supply of reserves; rather, it reflected the fact that many banks presently
hold about all of the consumer credit and, in some cases, all of the mort
gages that they choose to take into their portfolios.

This attitude may



have been bolstered by criticism of their credit policies from supervisory

Chairman Martin recalled that at the meeting of the full Committee
on March 3, 1954 there was some discussion of the desirability of narrowing
the gap between discounts and excess reserves so as to have a lower margin
of free reserves and he suggested that there be a discussion of this point.

Mr. Mills was under the impression that the committee might not be
best advised to work toward any narrowing of the margin between discounts
and excess reserves, as had been done during the last two weeks.


involved going in and out of the market and the Manager of the System Account

had bought and sold bills to trim the situation up.

This raised the question

in Mr. Mills' mind whether the market fully understood this type of operation.
His impression was that the market handling had encouraged a desirable sta
bility in interest rates, both at the short end and at the long end, and that
that had given investors a chance to take stock of their position in terms of
the interest structure that might exist.

Mr. Mills felt that this had paid

off in that the lower interest structure had been accepted by the financial

There certainly had been an adequate amount of free reserves

available to the banks during this two-week period, Mr. Mills said.

It was

evident that it was the intent of the account that this situation continue.
After commenting somewhat on statistics of bank credit, interest rates, and
investments during recent months, Mr. Mills presented the question whether,
even though banks now had ample reserves for making loans, there was a



situation that might warrant taking a dramatic step at this juncture to
encourage credit extensions.

Although banks seem to have accepted the lower

interest rate structure, if the System were to dramatize to them that there
is an abundance of reserves it might induce the same stimulus which inad
vertently occurred in January of this year when sloppiness in the market
was a factor that caused banks and others to make additional investments
in securities.

A dramatic move by the System might bring a general under

standing on the part of the financial community that this is a type of
economic and financial operation where the banks reasonably could antici
pate a further lowering of interest rates.
Mr. Rouse stated that operations for the System account during
recent weeks had been designed to prevent an accumulation of excess reserves
which would be carried over weekends, and thus result in quite a "sloppy"
reserve position.

Similarly, an effort had been made to avoid a deficiency

in reserves that had to be carried over the weekend.

Speaking more generally

regarding Mr. Mills' comments, Mr. Rouse said that the present seemed to be
a period when the economy was on something of a plateau.

The question was

whether credit policy should not remain substantially as it is until the
economic outlook had cleared rather than to inject something in the way of
a dramatic action in the financial market.

As Mr. Thomas had indicated, de

spite the obscurities in projections of the reserve position of banks, the
situation in the money market during the next few weeks would probably work
out to be quite easy.

Mr. Rouse also said, in response to a question by

Chairman Martin, that he had had no specific level of free reserves in mind



in carrying on operations, that his thinking and his discussions with
Mr. Thomas had indicated that if there were to be any optimum figure it
would be something like $250 to $300 million of free reserves, but that
the test was to have an adequate amount of reserves which would "grease
the way" for credit extensions.

In response to Chairman Martin's question

as to whether Mr. Rouse had had any thought that operations might be such
as to reduce free reserves to zero, Mr. Rouse said that he had had no such

thought at this point, that if any such thing happened it would be the
result of an unforeseen development.
Mr. Robertson felt that the economic picture as presented at this
meeting did not call for any drastic action but that it did call for

maintaining what heretofore had been the amount of reserves called for
under the policy of active ease.

His thinking was that free reserves should

be somewhere between $300 and $500 million under present circumstances (in
cluding the level of borrowings), that anything below that would be too

tight and that anything above would be too sloppy. He was not opposed to
operating in and out of the market in order to secure this level; on the
contrary, he felt that the committee should so conduct its operations,


realized the difficulty of attaining any particular level of reserves at
this period but felt that it would be well to have in mind a figure of some
thing like $400 million of free reserves for the next two weeks, understanding

that at any particular time actual free reserves might run $100 million more
or less than this figure.


Mr. Rouse stated that it should be borne in mind that the figure

of excess reserves for country banks was one thing, that to a lesser de
gree figures of excess reserves for city banks were significant in


dicating the general reserve position of the country, and that in the case
of central reserve city banks the figures could easily be misunderstood.
There might be a localized situation at central reserve city banks which
made it

look as though there was a shortage of reserves when,

in reality,

there was an easy reserve situation at banks over the country generally.
Taking the country as a whole, Mr. Rouse felt that currently there was a
fairly easy reserve situation and estimates of both the New York Bank and

the Board indicated that this probably would continue during the next few

In response to a question from Mr. Robertson, Mr. Rouse said that

he would feel that the figure of somewhere between $300 and $500 million of
free reserves would fit into the concept of what would make for active ease
during the next two weeks.
Mr. C. S. Young saw no reason for any change in open market opera

He felt that there would have to be something more than a $250

million level of free reserves to push the larger city banks into longer
term investments, but he had no suggestion for taking steps at this time.
Mr. Young reiterated the view that business is not as good as it seems to
be on the surface.
Mr. Williams stated that he could see no necessity for any dramatic
move at the present time, and Mr. Szymczak felt that operations should be
continued just about as they have been recently.


Chairman Martin stated that it

appeared to be the consensus that

operations should be continued as at present with the understanding that if
there were to be error it

should be on the side of ease, and there was agree

ment with this statement.
Chairman Martin inquired of Mr. Rouse regarding the study of bankers'
acceptances referred to at the meeting of the Federal Open Market Committee
on March 3, 1954.
Mr. Rouse stated that he had contemplated suggesting to the dealers
that the acceptance rate was out of line but in view of comments to the
effect that the Federal Reserve was exerting pressure on the prime lending
rate he felt it
the time being.

would be desirable not to initiate such suggestions for

and when the committee was ready to take some action in

connection with acceptances, Mr. Rouse felt that should be done by in
dicating that it was willing to buy acceptances for the System account.
Mr. Riefler stated that in

connection with the general proposal for

increasing the functioning of the acceptance market, the staff had been work
ing on a memorandum which would give the experience of the Federal Reserve
System in handling acceptances from the time the System was organized.


memorandum would include a discussion of the rate structure formerly used
and would attempt to evaluate the extent to which such rate structure was
appropriate to today's situation.

Mr. Riefler felt the memorandum would

be ready for distribution before the next meeting of the executive committee,
and he expressed the view that because of the importance of the proposal for
building up the acceptance market, the executive committee might wish to re
fer the matter back to the full Committee.



There followed a brief discussion of when the next meeting of the
executive committee should be held, particularly whether it should be
during the week beginning March 29 or during the week beginning April 5,
and it

was agreed that no date for the meeting should be set at this time

but that Chairman Martin would discuss with Mr. Sproul, who was unable to
attend this meeting, the date to be set.
Chairman Martin then referred to the discussion at the meeting of
the executive committee on March 3, 1954 at which time he mentioned an
oral request received from Mr. Fink, Staff Director of the Committee on
Banking and Currency of the House of Representatives,

who sought to obtain

for the use of Representative Patmar information showing transactions by
the System open market account with individual dealers in Government se
curities and the amounts of commissions paid to each dealer.
that it

He stated

appeared that the draft of letter which had been prepared had been

superseded by a written request from Representative Patman under date of
March 10, 1954, who asked for additional information regarding commissions
paid on transactions for the System open market account but did not ask
for transactions with individual dealers.

In the course of a discussion

of this request, Chairman Martin suggested that Mr. Rouse be requested to
prepare a draft of letter in response to the inquiry from Chairman Patman
for the consideration of the executive committee.
This suggestion was approved



Mr. Rouse stated that no change would be needed in the directive

to be issued to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Thereupon, upon motion duly made
and seconded, the executive committee
voted unanimously to direct the Federal
Reserve Bank of New York until otherwise
directed by the executive committee:
To make such purchases, sales, or exchanges (includ
ing replacement of maturing securities and allowing maturities
to run off without replacement) for the System account in the
open market or, in the case of maturing securities, by direct
exchange with the Treasury, as may be necessary in the light
of current and prospective economic conditions and the general
credit situation of the country, with a view (a) to relating
the supply of funds in the market to the needs of commerce and
business, (b) to promoting growth and stability in the economy
by actively maintaining a condition of ease in the money market,
and (c) to the practical administration of the account; provided
that the total amount of securities in the System account
(including commitments for the purchase or sale of securities for
the account) at the close of this date shall not be increased or
decreased by more than $500 million;
To purchase direct from the Treasury for the account of
the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (with discretion, in cases
where it seems desirable, to issue participations to one or more
Federal Reserve Banks) such amounts of special short-term certi
ficates of indebtedness as may be necessary from time to time for
the temporary accommodation of the Treasury; provided that the
total amount of such certificates held at any one time by the
Federal Reserve Banks shall not exceed in the aggregate $1 billion;
To sell direct to the Treasury from the System account
for gold certificates such amounts of Treasury securities matur
ing within one year as may be necessary from time to time for
the accommodation of the Treasury; provided that the total amount
of such securities so sold shall not exceed in the aggregate
$500 million face amount, and such sales shall be made as nearly
as may be practicable at the prices currently quoted in the open
Thereupon the meeting adjourned.