Hi Dr Herbener,
Interest rates are at all time lows. The Fed is constantly buying assets and thus increasing the monetary base. However, a lot of the new money is put into excess reserves and banks earn interest on them. So this new money does not enter the economy nor leads to price inflation.
If the Fed stopped printing money, interest rates would rise.
What would be the consequenes?
Will banks loan out money they held at excess reserves before?
Would banks make more loans or less loans?
What can we say about price inflation in these scenarios?
As we have seen in the last few days, even a hint from the Fed that its expansionary policy might be scaled back soon led to a stock market sell off. If the Fed stopped expanding the monetary base, the asset price bubbles it has been fueling would burst. Interest rates would rise on the assets the Fed has been buying, namely, MBS and Treasuries. It’s not clear if that would set in motion a general rise in interest rates. It depends on how investors weigh the effects of a smaller stimulus to credit expansion against a reduced threat of price inflation.
Banks are not lending because they don’t see normal prospects for being paid back and they want to stay liquid. Banks have no incentive to lend their excess reserves. They can convert them into required reserves by issuing fiduciary media and expanding credit and still be paid interest by the Fed. The Fed pays interest on reserves, whether required or excess.
Price inflation will pick up as bank lending returns to normal (causing the money stock to expand more rapidly) and as money demand declines to normal.