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For release on Monday, July 11, 1^66




MONETARY POLICY AND DEPOSIT INSTITUTIONS

Remarks of

SHERMAN J. MAISEL
Member
Board of Governors
cf the
Federal Reserve System

at the

Third Annual Executive
Development Program
of the
National League of Insured Savings Associations
Washington, D. C.

July 11, l';66

I am pleased r t this opportunity to speak with an executive
.
group of the Savings and Loan League.

We have many mutual problems.

Recently all financial institutions have faced new situations.

The

rapidity of change in money markets, in interest rates, and in the
relationship among financial institutions has been record breaking.
Understanding and prescription have not kept pace with events.

Slowing the Growth in Demand
Our primary national economic problem, which only a year
ago was still that of insuring a steady expansion of demand, has
reversed to where, at least temporarily, the primary problem is that
of restraining the growth in private demand so as to ease the pressure
on capacity and prices.
The basic cause for this turnabout is no secret.

It

springs primarily from the additional spending needed for the war
in Vietnam.

The added war expenditures, directly through Government

purchases and indirectly through related business spending for
additional plant and equipment, plus higher consumer incomes and
expenditures, have raised total demand faster than our ability to
expand the supply of goods and services.

The clearest signs of

pressure on real resources have appeared in the higher utilization
rate for plant and equipment and lower unemployment.

There also

have been rapid shifts in the supply and demand situation for many
sensitive commodities.




-2-

These increased expenditures and market pressures have
resulted in more rapid and more significant price increases than had
been recorded in any of the previous seven years.

In addition, on

the balance of payments front, where formerly we had been achieving
an impressive reduction in our deficit, signs of a renewed deterio­
ration have sines appeared.

The Methods for Slowing Demand
To restrain demand growth, two major policy approaches
have been available.

The first, the simplest, and the most direct,

would have been through fiscal measures.

A tax increase would have

narrowed the increase in demand at once.

Furthermore, it could

have been tailored fairly precisely to cut back directly the most
disturbing demand--the over-rapid expansion of investment in plant
and equipment.
The second, slower, and more indirect, method of moderating
demand increases was through the use of restrictive monetary policy.
As a result of higher interest rates and lower credit availability,
some prospective buyers who can borrow only at higher rates and in
curtailed amounts cut back on their purchases of goods and equipment.
If monetary policy alone is used to slow the growth in demand, the
degree of sensitivity of purchases to changed credit conditions will
determine how much credit expansion must be slowed and interest
rates raised.




-3-

Most American economists have stressed the fact that
attempts to curtail powerful increases in demand through monetary
restraint are likely to generate serious stresses both on the gen­
eral structure of our monetary institutions and upon industries and
individuals with more than an average dependence on credit markets.
For this reason, they have advocated primary reliance upon the use
of flexible fiscal policy.

Earlier this year economists were nearly

unanimous in their attempts to convince the business and political
world of the desirability of a tax increase.

The Dilemmas of Financial Institutions
In periods such as the present when the expansion of
demand must be slowed, financial institutions may find their shortand long-run goals in sharp conflict.

Their traditional policies

and beliefs may appear self-defeating.
Financial institutions recognize their major stake in the
attempt to hold demand within the limits set by the feasible growth
in supply in order to halt inflation.

Thrift institutions, particu­

larly, know that if they are to exist and refrain viable, the value
of savings in real terms must be maintained.

Wo savings institution

offering fixed-value claims can be successful in a truly inflationary
econonqr.
Mortgage lenders have an additional concern.

They have

lived directly with one inflationary influence on the economy.

Price

increases in new construction as well as for existing dwellings have




been strong.

While the causes of this specific inflation are

extremely complex, aggressive merchandising of easy credit has
certainly not restrained it.
Thrift institutions also have properly been major sup­
porters of our competitive enterprise system and of the advantages
of increased individual saving.

Our extraordinary growth in wealth

and income has been built upon the free and competitive channeling
of individual savings to borrowers who can make the most efficient
use of these sums.

Our whole financial structure is based on the

belief that most decisions as to whom to lend to and what rates
are to be paid are best handled by competitive institutions and
not the Government.
Dilemmas arise because the advantages institutions gain
in fighting inflation may be offset by potential individual costs.
Tight money seemed fine to lenders when it meant they could charge
more.

It seems less desirable to them when all of their increased

income and perhaps more has to be paid out to the owners of savings.
When savings flows are expanding less rapidly, operational effici­
ency must be improved.
the boys.

There is a wider gap between the men and

Poor management is less likely to be bailed out of mis­

takes in lending by an inflationary rise in prices.
In times like these, managements also have temptations
to resist.

While the number of good loans rises and the quality of

credit improves, the fringe of marginal borrowers offers still




-5-

higher rates.

Since this group normally operates almost entirely

with an institution's rather than their own money, they can always
promise higher and higher fees.

In periods when income and profit

margins are under pressure, it may be harder to resist the pressure
to "go for broke" and in the process wind up merely "going broke"!
Lenders by nature also hate to turn down business.
Financial institutions have properly stressed their services to
borrowers.

Major efforts have been made to cultivate firms that can

generate loan volume.

It is always unpleasant in periods of tight

money to have to refuse loans to customers assiduously wooed in the
past.

Managements tend, too, to overstress the cost of losses of

customers to competitors.

They fail to recognize that all financial

institutions must turn away borrowers.
Finally, there is a legitimate concern over an undesirable
ratcheting upward of interest rates.

If a sufficient number of

institutions misjudge the market and rates rise more than necessary,
there may be problems in bringing them down.

In the past, deposit

rates have tended to be inflexible in both directions.
The dilemma is sharpened because restricted growth in
credit, traditionally and apparently in this period, falls dispropor­
tionately on the housebuilding industry.

Even while pointing to

the growth in overall construction and the failure of housebuilding
to solve its internal price problems, most observers, I believe,
would think it a detriment and not a gain to the economy if the level




-6-

of housing starts falls much below the current level.

It is cold

comfort to point out that the current problems of housebuilding
compare closely with those of previous tight money periods and were
predicted well in advance.

Recent Financial Events
What has been happening among financial institutions?
I think most are surprised to learn that despite all the talk about
"tight* money the creation of money and credit since December 5 has
been at a record-breaking pace.

From December 1 to June 30, the

money supply increased at an annual rate of 5.9 per cent.
far faster than in any prior postwar year.
through financial markets also set a record.

This is

Credit made available
Bank credit did not

expand as rapidly, but still its rate of increase exceeded the pre­
ceding six years.
While some criticize the Federal Reserve for being "too
tight," others criticize it for an overly rapid increase in bank
credit.

Critics of the latter sort contrast this record-breaking

growth in credit and ask how it can be reconciled with our goal of
slowing down the expansion in real demand.

People also wonder why

with this sharp expansion of credit there has been such a rapid rise
in interest rates and in the pressure felt by all financial insti­
tutions.




-7-

The explanation is that interest rates result from the con­
junction of the supply and demand curves.

While the supply of credit

has risen, it has done so less rapidly than demand.

Credit appli­

cations from potential borrowers, whether to hoard for the future,
to speculate, or for legitimate credit needs, have shot up.

Their

demands could not be matched with the expanded supply except with
higher interest rates and the direct rationing of availability by
lenders.
We also have experienced a traditional shift from saving
through deposit institutions to direct purchases in financial markets.
This has slowed, but far from halted, the growth in deposits.
at Chart I (attached).

Look

This relates the growth of deposits in

thrift institutions to the spread between the deposit rates and the
market rate for intermediate Government bonds.
intelligent.

Clearly savers are

A very significant proportion of them--perhaps now more

than ever--shop for their best return.

The rate at which they expand

deposits depends on the rate offered in comparison with money market
instruments.

Thus far this ÿear because of the high demand in money

and capital markets and the rising rates paid there, savers have
put a far larger share of their savings directly into credit instru­
ments instead of into deposits.




The Survey of Bank Time Deposits
We know that over time savers have also become more
selective in their choices of deposit instruments.
logical.

Again this is

The postwar period has witnessed a rapid expansion in the

number of families with fairly sizable amounts of savings and a more
sophisticated approach to investment.

The greater coverage of the

financial press, the increase in investment services, the growth of
financial trustees, the awareness that interest rates are nev/s, all
reflect the fact that most savings are not in the hands of depositors
with small knowledge or means.

Rather they are concentrated

sufficiently so that even minor variations in rates can make sizable
differences in responses.
The growing sophistication of savers is demonstrated both
by flow of funds figures showing an increased movement of individual
savings to the money markets and by the recent Federal Reserve survey
of member banks' experience with time deposits covering the period
from December through mid-May.
Uhat were some of the survey's results?

Excluding time

deposits held by governments and the large negotiable CD's, passbook
savings still made up about three-quarters of the remaining total of
time deposits held by individuals, partnerships, and corporations.
On the other hand, by far the fastest growing kind of time deposit
was the consumer type (savings certificates and bonds, and certificates
of deposit under $100,000).




IRie total of sums held in savings

passbooks at member banks actually fell during this period at an
annual rate of 4 per cent.
The survey also seems to say that banks are using consumertype instruments in an attempt to hold funds which would otherwise
be lost f o the money market or other institutions.
c
variety in rates, type, size, and maturities exists.

A tremendous
The range of

instruments mirrors the type of reactions one would expect of a
competitive system given the variety of differences in geography,
size, and needs which exist among our financial institutions.
Rates paid reflect the different market situations faced
by each bank.

Thus almost all bamcs competing in the money market

for corporate or public funds were paying the maximum rate of
5-1/2 per cent on certificates of deposits of $109 thousand or over.
In contrast among the banlcs competing for consumer CD's fewer than
3 per cent, or 191, were issuing any CD's carrying interest rates
over 5 per cent.

The highest rate paid by the average bank was

still less than 4-1/2 per cent.
High rates on consumer-type time deposits were concentrated
primarily among banks in New York and California where the competi­
tion from the money market, the stock market, and other institutions
is greatest.

These higher rates served primarily to stem losses.

As a general rule banks with the highest rates achieved less than
average gains in their total consumer-type deposits.

Given the demand

for funds and the rates on market instruments, they had to run very
fast in order not to lose ground.

Banks as a whole were gaining time

deposits at about 55 per cent of last year's rate.




-n-

The survey also showed that the instruments that have
received the widest publicity--notably "savings bonds"--were still
minor parts of the total.

This over-estimate of the actuality of

these instruments is, I know, a phenomenon with which you in the
savings and loan industry *re all too familiar, because of the
tendency of people to read the dividend rates advertised by a few
savings and loans in the financial press and the New York papers
and to jump to the conclusion that these are representative of the
rates that all savings and loan associations could pay.

For example,

though commercial bank savings bonds have probably attracted more
attention than any other instrument, the fact remains that as of

Me.y 11 they were issued by only 162 member banks.
had not raised their rates since December 3.

Half of the banks

Only 8 banks paid more

than 5 per cent interest on these bonds and only 1/2 of 1 per cent
of all member banks issued any bonds of this xind at rates over
4.5 per cent.

Similarly, many have mistakenly assumed that most banks
were raising minimum maturities and sizes in this period.
the opposite is true.

In fact

Most banks made no change in the conditions

attached to their instruments.

Of those that altered their terms,

considerably more lengthened the minimum period required for money
on deposit than shortened it.
acceptable than reduced it.




Similarly more banks raised the minimum

-11The Dilemmas of the Regulatory Agencies
The dilemmas faced by financial institutions have created
related ones for the regulatory agencies.

The desirable goals to

be sought in this period have been numerous and at times conflicting.
They include, among other things:
(1) Moderation of the rate of credit expansion to that
which will support a maximum growth in real output
and continued improvement in unemployment without
inflation;
(2) Improvement in the rate of individual savings so
more real income is available for eager investors;
(3) Supporting the growth of the competitive enter­
prise system;
(4) Recognizing the institutional problems of rapid
change and attempting to ameliorate its hardships;
(5) A distribution of the credit supply that does not
unduly penalize any sector.
It was in the pursuit of these and other longstanding goals,
and in the light of the survey and other information becoming avail­
able, that the Federal Reserve Board acted two weeks ago to raise
reserve requirements on time deposits other than savings.

As is

usual lie were criticized both for doing too much and too little,
ivhat were a few of the things that had to be considered?
It was clear that the ceiling on large CD's could not be
rolled back without drastically curtailing the credit lifeline of
millions of borrowers.

Between $15 and $20 billions are outstanding

in time deposits paying over 5 per cent.
could easily flee to other instruments.




Almost all this money
No one can say with assurance

-12-

what the results of such a rollback would have been, but clearly
the market for mortgages, construction loans, state and local bonds#
and similar items held by banks would have suffered tremendous
shocks.
On the other hand, it also appeared that several of the
goals I have just listed would be furthered by a moderate increase
in reserve requirements with a maintenance of the existing rate
ceilings.

This would serve directly to slow the expansion of credit.

This action would raise somewhat the cost of money obtained through
CD's.

It would call into question the overly glib assumption that

banks could continue to expand their assets without limit by pur­
chasing liquidity through the issuance of CD's.

They would be more

likely to adjust their operations to the fact of a ceiling on Q which
no longer would give much headroom in competition with the money mar­
ket.

Each of these effects would aid in the creation of a sounder

background against which lenders could determine the necessity of
each potential loan.
The problem of the consumer- type CD was still more difficult
to resolve effectively.
were limited.

Here the legal powers available to the Board

Gestures could have been made by limiting the terms

of one or two particular types of time deposits.

Most outstandings,

however, are indistinguishable except in amount <$r by type of
holder from the vast majority of market CD's.

But the Board lacks

legal authority to use either amount or type of holder as a basis of
distinction for regulatory purposes.




-13-

Fur thermore, the survey suggests that the majority of
banks seem to be following a logical path in attempting to shape
their savings instruments to the needs of their customers.

They

are offering savers different rates depending on savers' willingness
to trade off convenience, liquidity, risk, and marketability for
interest income.

While some banks seemed not to be following a

prudent course, the facts convinced many that the costs, with exist­
ing powers, of attempting to curb the few were greater than the
threat the few carried to a continuing sound financial system.
Although the present situation does not appear unreasonable,
it may not be stable.

The rates offered on savings could escalate

to a point that would create hardships for some institutions.

Since

banks are fairly flexible in their portfolios, most problems would
be faced by other types of institutions.

For this reason, I was

rather surprised to see that spokesmen for the savings and loan
industry at the recent Congressional hearings did not agree with the
Administration that the three regulatory agencies ought to have stand­
by powers to impose interest and dividend rate ceilings on deposits.
It seemed to me that a bill which gave the Federal Reserve and the
FDIC authority to set interest ceilings on deposits differentiated
by size (say, $100,000) and gave authority to the FHLBB to impose
similar ceilings would be a useful weapon to hold in reserve in the
present period.




-14-

The decision to leave rates paid to the enterprise system
and the management ability of financial institutions is obviously not
a universally popular one.

We certainly were urged strongly to impose

controls and ceilings that could only have had a very drastic effect
on all financial institutions.

A lav; or regulation which is likely

to lead to a sudden contraction in credit is unlikely to help any­
one.

I think you would all be amazed at the number of letters and

calls we have received urging us in effect not simply to slow down
the rate of credit growth but to force a contraction by reducing the
ceiling banks could pay on their time deposits far below rates avail­
able in the money market or abroad.

I am certain that few realized

the amounts involved, the costs that would be engendered for major
parts of the country and the economy, plus the dangers of cumulative
contractions that might follow from their seemingly simple policy
suggestions.
How these proposals were to help reach our economic goals
and make more savings available to meet borrowing demand waâ not
clear.

Many seemed to argue that savers will put as much or more

money into financial institutions at lower than at higher rates ,
This argument is hard to follow.

The contrary argument, that lower

rates for deposits would only cause more funds to go to the money
market seems more logical.

Deposit

institutions, to hold their

share for their borrowers, must pay a rate competitive with the
market.




They can minimize their costs by shaping their response

-15-

to the variety of savers' needs.

Even so it is entirely possible

that some with even the best of current management may suffer
losses in profits.

This is the cost of past overly exuberant

action by individual institutions and the present too great a
dependence on higher interest rates to curtail demand.

The Future
One needs a particularly clear crystal ball to predict
the future in a period of such rapid change.

It is always possible

that war expenditures will drop, taxes will be raised, business
capital and investment will be curtailed, or that consumers will
suddenly begin to spend less and save more.

Any of these movements

if sufficiently large would reduce the demand for credit so much
that even with normal rates of growth in the credit supply pressures
on interest rates and specific credit markets would be reduced.
On the other hand, if some or all of these forces fail to
reverse recent trends, then the continued pressures of demand upon
a credit supply expanding at only normal rates will not allow the
situation to ease.
unpleasant choices.

Financial institutions will continue to face
The costs and dangers of further rate escalation

will have to be weighed against the advantages in adjusting lending
operations to the slower growth in total available deposits.

At

the same time banks will have to work harder at allocating their




funds among their potential borrowers.

The problem of balancing

national and community needs against short-term profit possibili­
ties will be greater.
Other deposit institutions will face similar problems.
They will have to rethink their rate and lending strategies.

At

the same time they will have to continue to evaluate risks carefully.
One should expect that in a period marked by improving loan quality
lenders would upgrade not lower the quality of their portfolios.
I believe that all lending institutions and the Government
will have to give special consideration to the housebuilding indus­
try.

In recent years, lenders have channeled more of their funds

to land speculation, commercial and industrial properties, and the
refinancing of existing structures.

A failure to reverse these

trends sharply at this time would be a major disservice to the
country.
At the same time, I feel that the conduits set up to allow
housebuilding to tap the financial markets more directly in times of
tighter money should be expanded and the flow through them increased.
These conduits include the special assistance programs of FNMA and
the advances for expansion of the FHLB System.

Unless lenders do

shift more of their funds to housebuilding and unless the governmental
programs are enlarged, housing starts may well decline to an undesira­
ble level.
When the history of this period is examined, I think that
all those concerned with the financial world will have learned many




-17-

things.

Of utmost importance will be a wider understanding of the

relationship between monetary and fiscal policy.

Talking to economists,

I find they express great disappointment in what they consider a
failure of financial leaders to play a constructive role in shaping
community and political views in the past six months.

Instead of

leading the discussion and fight for more flexible taxes to offset
the pressures on financial institutions, financial men have put their
effort into seeking new governmental controls.

The unfortunate part

is that; while higher taxes would have eased their difficulties immedi­
ately, the suggested controls seemed to promise more harm than good.
One of the great advantages of conferences such as this is
that they enable each to examine more carefully the assumptions upon
which he has acted.

I hope each of you will have time to re-examine

the relationship of flexible fiscal policy to the operations of your
and other financial industries.

VJhat would your and the country's

situation be if there existed a broader understanding of a systQ®
which depended for stability on flexible taxes rather than on higher
interest rates and tighter money?
I think we also will have to rethink the problem of insti­
tutions borrowing short and lending long.

Clearly one cause of our

difficulties is the uneven time distribution in individual firms of
portfolios and deposits.

If their average length was closer together

or if the portfolios had more instruments with adjustable rates,
some of our current problems would not have arisen.




In any case, I think, or fear, we most all agree that
these are most interesting times for those concerned with financial
markets.




Many of us may well wish this were less true.

ANNUAL RATE OF ChANGE IN NET DEPOSITS AT MUTUAL
SAVINGS BANKS AND SAVINGS AND LOAN
ASSOCIATIONS RELATED TO YIELD SPREAD,* 1954-1966
% Growth in deposits

* Average interest/dividend rates paid le ss average yield on 3-5 year intermediate Treasury bonds.




Yield spread