Market monetarism

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Market monetarism is a school of macroeconomic thought that advocates that central banks target the level of nominal income instead of inflation, unemployment, or other measures of economic activity, including in times of shocks such as the bursting of the real estate bubble in 2006, and in the financial crisis that followed. [1] In contrast to traditional monetarists, market monetarists do not believe monetary aggregates or commodity prices such as gold are the optimal guide to intervention. Market monetarists also reject the New Keynesian focus on interest rates as the primary instrument of monetary policy. [1] Market monetarists prefer a nominal income target due to their twin beliefs that rational expectations are crucial to policy, and that markets react instantly to changes in their expectations about future policy, without the "long and variable lags" postulated by Milton Friedman. [2] [3]

Macroeconomics branch of economics that studies aggregated indicators

Macroeconomics is a branch of economics dealing with the performance, structure, behavior, and decision-making of an economy as a whole. This includes regional, national, and global economies.

A nominal income target is a monetary policy target. Such targets are adopted by central banks to manage national economic activity. Nominal aggregates are not adjusted for inflation. Nominal income aggregates that can serve as targets include nominal gross domestic product (NGDP) and nominal gross domestic income (GDI). Central banks use a variety of techniques to hit their targets, including conventional tools such as interest rate targeting or open market operations, unconventional tools such as quantitative easing or interest rates on excess reserves and expectations management to hit its target. The concept of NGDP targeting was formally proposed by Neo-Keynesian economists James Meade in 1977 and James Tobin in 1980, although Austrian economist Friedrich Hayek argued in favor of the stabilization of nominal income as a monetary policy norm as early as 1931 and as late as 1975.

Inflation increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time

In economics, inflation is a sustained increase in the general price level of goods and services in an economy over a period of time. When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services; consequently, inflation reflects a reduction in the purchasing power per unit of money – a loss of real value in the medium of exchange and unit of account within the economy. The opposite of inflation is deflation, a sustained decrease in the general price level of goods and services. The common measure of inflation is the inflation rate, the annualized percentage change in a general price index, usually the consumer price index, over time.

Contents

History

The term "market monetarism" was coined by Danish economist Lars Christensen in August 2011, and was quickly adopted by prominent economists who advocated a nominal income target for monetary policy. Scott Sumner, a Bentley University economist and one of the most vocal advocates of a nominal income target, adopted the label of market monetarist in September 2011. [4] Sumner has been described as the "eminence grise" of market monetarism. [5] In addition to Scott Sumner, Lars Christensen attributes economists Nick Rowe, David Beckworth, Joshua Hendrickson, Bill Woolsey and Robert Hetzel to be "instrumental in forming the views of Market Monetarism". [1] Yue Chim Richard Wong, professor of economics at the University of Hong Kong, describes market monetarist economists as "relatively junior in the economics profession and ... concentrated in the teaching universities." [6] The Economist states that Sumner's blog "drew together like-minded economists, many of them at small schools some distance from the centre of the economic universe"; consequently, Christensen considers market monetarism to be the first economic school of thought born in the blogosphere. [7]

Economist professional in the social science discipline of economics

An economist is a practitioner in the social science discipline of economics.

Scott B. Sumner is an American economist. He is the Director of the Program on Monetary Policy at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, and professor who teaches at Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts. His economics blog, The Money Illusion, popularized the idea of nominal GDP targeting, which says that the Federal Reserve and other central banks should target nominal GDP, real GDP growth plus the rate of inflation, to better "induce the correct level of business investment".

Bentley University university

Bentley University is a private university focused on business and located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Founded in 1917 as a school of accounting and finance in Boston's Back Bay neighborhood, Bentley moved to Waltham in 1968. Bentley awards bachelor of science degrees in 14 business fields and bachelor of arts degrees in 11 arts and sciences disciplines, offering 36 minors spanning both arts and science and business disciplines. The graduate school emphasizes the impact of technology on business practice, and offers PhD programs in Business and Accountancy, the Bentley MBA with 16 areas of concentration, an integrated MS+MBA, seven Master of Science degrees, several graduate certificate programs and custom executive education programs.

Although rejecting Milton Friedman's notion of long and variable lags in the effects of monetary policy, market monetarism is typically associated with Friedman's thought, especially with respect to the history of the Great Depression. Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has noted that Christensen, who coined the name "market monetarism," authored a book on Friedman. Evans-Pritchard described the school as, "not Keynesian. They are inspired by interwar economists Ralph Hawtrey and Sweden's Gustav Cassel, as well as monetarist guru Milton Friedman." [5] Evans-Pritchard traces the idea of nominal income targeting to Irving Fisher's Depression-era proposal of a "compensated dollar plan." [5] The idea of targeting nominal GDP was first proposed in James Meade (1978), [8] and discussed in the economic literature during the 1980s and 1990s. [9]

Great Depression 20th-century worldwide economic depression

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; in most countries, it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century. In the 21st century, the Great Depression is commonly used as an example of how intensely the world's economy can decline.

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is the international business editor of the Daily Telegraph.

Gustav Cassel Swedish economist

Karl Gustav Cassel was a Swedish economist and professor of economics at Stockholm University.

Bruce Bartlett, former adviser to U.S. President Ronald Reagan, and Treasury official under President George H. W. Bush, first noticed in 2010 the emergence of Scott Sumner, and the movement of economic debates to the blogosphere. Bartlett credited Sumner with bringing the concept of market monetarism into the national debate about economics. [10] The Economist later noted that Tyler Cowen, professor of economics at George Mason University, and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman had linked to Sumner's blog within a month of its inception, Cowen approving of Sumner's proposals, but Krugman more skeptical. [7]

Bruce Reeves Bartlett is an American historian and author. He served as a domestic policy adviser to Ronald Reagan and as a Treasury official under George H. W. Bush.

Ronald Reagan 40th president of the United States and conservative spokesman

Ronald Wilson Reagan was an American politician who served as the 40th president of the United States from 1981 to 1989 and became the highly influential voice of modern conservatism. Prior to his presidency, he was a Hollywood actor and union leader before serving as the 33rd governor of California from 1967 to 1975.

George H. W. Bush 41st president of the United States

George Herbert Walker Bush was an American politician and businessman who served as the 41st president of the United States from 1989 to 1993 and the 43rd vice president from 1981 to 1989. A member of the Republican Party, Bush also served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and as Director of Central Intelligence. Later in life, he was known publicly as George H. W. Bush to distinguish him from his eldest son George W. Bush, who served as the nation's 43rd president from 2001 to 2009.

By 2011, market monetarism's recommendation of nominal income targeting was becoming accepted in mainstream institutions, such as Goldman Sachs [11] and Northern Trust. [12] Years of sluggish economic performance in the United States had compelled a review of the strategies of the Federal Reserve Board. Later in 2011, Krugman publicly endorsed market monetarist policy recommendations, suggesting "a Fed regime shift" to "expectations-based monetary policy," and commending market monetarism for its focus on nominal GDP. [13] Krugman used the term "market monetarism" in his widely read blog. Also, in the fourth quarter of 2011, The Milken Institute released a study by Clark Johnson, advocating market monetarist approaches. [14] In late October 2011, former Chairwoman of the Council of Economic Advisors, Christina D. Romer, wrote a widely read editorial or "public letter" in The New York Times in which she called on Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke to target nominal GDP, a market monetarist tenet. [6]

Goldman Sachs U.S. multinational investment bank

The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., is an American multinational investment bank and financial services company headquartered in New York City. It offers services in investment management, securities, asset management, prime brokerage, and securities underwriting.

Northern Trust Corporation is a financial services company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois that caters to corporations, institutional investors, and high net worth individuals. It is one of the largest banks in the United States and one the oldest banks in continuous operation. As of December 31, 2018, it had $1.07 trillion in assets under management and $10.13 trillion in assets under custody. Northern Trust Corporation is incorporated in Delaware.

Federal Reserve Board of Governors governing body of the Federal Reserve System

The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, commonly known as the Federal Reserve Board, is the main governing body of the Federal Reserve System. It is charged with overseeing the Federal Reserve Banks and with helping implement the monetary policy of the United States. Governors are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate for staggered 14-year terms.

In November 2011, Bernanke held a press conference stating that the Federal Reserve board of governors had discussed the idea of NGDP targeting, and were considering adding nominal GDP to their list of important economic indicators. [6] However, the board decided against adopting a strict NGDP targeting policy, because, The Economist reported, "switching to a new targeting regime could 'risk unmooring longer-term inflation expectations'. If inflation were allowed to rise to 5%, for example, people might regard that as permanent and set wages accordingly, even as output returned to normal. To show its mettle, the Fed would then have to restrict growth; the costs of proving its seriousness might swamp the benefits of the new regime." [7]

In December 2012, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of Canada and later governor of the Bank of England, suggested adopting a nominal GDP level target (NGDP-LT). This would also have the advantage that during bad times people could trust on the interest rates staying low long enough, even though the inflation would exceed the old target. Therefore, the low interest rates would be more effective. [15]

According to Carney, the NGDP level is in many ways superior to the unemployment rate. It makes the central bank repair its old mistakes. This history-dependence is most advantageous during times of low interest rates by making monetary policy more credible and easier to understand. [16]

Rules-based policies

Market monetarists generally support a "rules-based" policy that they believe would increase economic stability. In particular, they criticize some tools of monetary policy, such as quantitative easing, for being too discretionary. [17] Market monetarists advocate that the central bank clearly express an NGDP target (such as 5–6 percent annual NGDP growth in ordinary times) and for the central bank to use its policy tools to adjust NGDP until NGDP futures markets predict that the target will be achieved.

Alternatively, the central bank could let markets do the work. The bank would offer to buy and sell NGDP futures contracts at a price that would change at the same rate as the NGDP target. Investors would initiate trades as long as they saw profit opportunities from NGDP growth above (or below) the target. The money supply and interest rates would adjust to the point where markets expected NGDP to reach the target. These "open market operation"s (OMOs) would automatically tighten or loosen the money supply and raise or lower interest rates. The bank's role is purely passive, buying or selling the contracts. This would partially or completely replace other bank's use of interest rates, quantitative easing, etc., to intervene in the economy. [18] Brad DeLong objects to this approach, writing, "The Federal Reserve would then become truly the lender of not just last but first resort." [19] Bill Woolsey offers several alternatives for the structure of such a futures market, suggesting an approach in which the Fed maintains a fixed price for the futures contract, hedging any resulting short or long position by conducting OMOs to match its net position and using other traditional techniques such as changing reserve requirements. He further recommends that private parties collateralize their positions using only securities such as treasury bills to prevent perverse effects from adjustments to margin accounts as the market moves. [20]

Nominal income target

Market monetarists maintain a nominal income target is the optimal monetary policy. [21] Market monetarists are skeptical that interest rates or monetary aggregates are good indicators for monetary policy and hence look to markets to indicate demand for money. Echoing Milton Friedman, [22] in the market monetarist view, low interest rates are indicators of past monetary tightness not current easing, and as such, are not an indicator of current monetary policy. Regarding monetary aggregates, they believe velocity is too volatile for a simple growth in base money to adequately accommodate market demand for money. In contrast, a nominal income target accommodates fluctuations in velocity by ensuring monetary policy is loose or tight enough in order to hit the target. This approach leaves interest rates to be decided by the market, while addressing inflation concerns as nominal GDP is also not allowed to grow faster than the level specified.

Market monetarists contend that by not paying attention to nominal income, the Federal Reserve has actually destabilized the US economy; nominal GDP fell 11% below trend during the 2008 recession, and has remained there since. Market monetarists believe that by explicitly following a nominal income target, monetary policy would be extremely effective in addressing aggregate demand shocks; summarizing this view, The Economist stated: "If people expect the central bank to return spending to a 5% growth path, their beliefs will help get it there. Firms will hire, confident that their revenues will expand; people will open their wallets, confident of keeping their jobs. Those hoarding cash will spend it or invest it, because they know that either output or prices will be higher in the future." [7]

Liquidity trap

Market monetarists reject the conventional wisdom that monetary policy is mostly irrelevant when an economy is in a liquidity trap (when short-term interest rates approach zero), arguing instead that liquidity traps are more associated with low nominal GDP growth than with low inflation. [23] Market monetarists claim that policies such as quantitative easing, charging instead of paying interest on excess bank reserves, and having the central bank publicly commit to nominal income targets can provide an exit from the trap. [18] Interest rates reached zero in Japan but not in China when they each experienced mild deflation. NGDP growth (Japan's has been near zero since 1993, while China's did not fall below the 5% to 10% range, even during the late 1990s East Asian financial crisis. [18] ) is seen as the more proximate determinant.

Market monetarists dispute the claim of conventional theory that central banks that issue fiat money cannot boost nominal spending when the economy is in a liquidity trap: instead, they say that the central bank can indeed raise nominal spending, as evidenced by the assertion that the central bank can always “debase the currency” by raising the inflation rate, increasing nominal spending in the process. [24]

Market monetarists have argued that unconventional methods of making monetary policy can succeed. The Economist describes the market monetarist approach as potentially including "'heroic' purchases of assets, on a bigger scale than anything yet tried by the Fed or the Bank of England." However, it notes that "Even then, people might refuse to spend the newly minted money, or the banks might also refuse to lend it." Some market monetarists like Bill Woolsey have suggested that "The Fed could impose a fee on bank reserves, leaving banks to impose a negative interest rate on their customers’ deposits. That might simply serve to fill up sock-drawers as people took the money out of their accounts. But eventually, instead of hoarding currency, they would spend and invest it, bidding up prices and, with luck, boosting production." [7]

Related Research Articles

In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction when there is a general decline in economic activity. Recessions generally occur when there is a widespread drop in spending. This may be triggered by various events, such as a financial crisis, an external trade shock, an adverse supply shock or the bursting of an economic bubble. In the United States, it is defined as "a significant decline in economic activity spread across the market, lasting more than a few months, normally visible in real GDP, real income, employment, industrial production, and wholesale-retail sales". In the United Kingdom, it is defined as a negative economic growth for two consecutive quarters.

Monetarism is a school of thought in monetary economics that emphasizes the role of governments in controlling the amount of money in circulation. Monetarist theory asserts that variations in the money supply have major influences on national output in the short run and on price levels over longer periods. Monetarists assert that the objectives of monetary policy are best met by targeting the growth rate of the money supply rather than by engaging in discretionary monetary policy.

In economics, deflation is a decrease in the general price level of goods and services. Deflation occurs when the inflation rate falls below 0%. Inflation reduces the value of currency over time, but deflation increases it. This allows more goods and services to be bought than before with the same amount of currency. Deflation is distinct from disinflation, a slow-down in the inflation rate, i.e. when inflation declines to a lower rate but is still positive.

Money supply total amount of monetary assets available in an economy at a specific time


The money supply is the total value of money available in an economy at a point of time. There are several ways to define "money", but standard measures usually include currency in circulation and demand deposits. Each country’s central bank may use its own definitions of what constitutes money for its purposes.

Monetary policy subclass of the economic policy

Monetary policy is the policy adopted by the monetary authority of a country that controls either the interest rate payable on very short-term borrowing or the money supply, often targeting inflation or the interest rate to ensure price stability and general trust in the currency.

Zero interest-rate policy

Zero interest-rate policy (ZIRP) is a macroeconomic concept describing conditions with a very low nominal interest rate, such as those in contemporary Japan and December 2008 through December 2015 in the United States. ZIRP is considered to be an unconventional monetary policy instrument and can be associated with slow economic growth, deflation, and deleverage.

A liquidity trap is a situation, described in Keynesian economics, in which, "after the rate of interest has fallen to a certain level, liquidity preference may become virtually absolute in the sense that almost everyone prefers holding cash rather than holding a debt which yields so low a rate of interest."

Neutrality of money is the idea that a change in the stock of money affects only nominal variables in the economy such as prices, wages, and exchange rates, with no effect on real variables, like employment, real GDP, and real consumption. Neutrality of money is an important idea in classical economics and is related to the classical dichotomy. It implies that the central bank does not affect the real economy by creating money. Instead, any increase in the supply of money would be offset by a proportional rise in prices and wages. This assumption underlies some mainstream macroeconomic models. Others like monetarism view money as being neutral only in the long-run.

Criticism of the Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve System has faced various criticisms since it was authorized in 1913. Nobel laureate economist Milton Friedman and his fellow monetarist Anna Schwartz criticized the Fed's response to the Wall Street Crash of 1929 arguing that it greatly exacerbated the Great Depression. More recent prominent critics include former Congressman Ron Paul.

Quantitative easing monetary policy

Quantitative easing (QE), also known as large-scale asset purchases, is a monetary policy whereby a central bank buys predetermined amounts of government bonds or other financial assets in order to inject liquidity directly into the economy. An unconventional form of monetary policy, it is usually used when inflation is very low or negative, and standard expansionary monetary policy has become ineffective. A central bank implements quantitative easing by buying specified amounts of financial assets from commercial banks and other financial institutions, thus raising the prices of those financial assets and lowering their yield, while simultaneously increasing the money supply. This differs from the more usual policy of buying or selling short-term government bonds to keep interbank interest rates at a specified target value.

Friedman's k-percent rule is a monetary policy rule that the money supply should be increased by the central bank by a constant percentage rate every year, irrespective of business cycles. In A Monetary History of the United States, 1867–1960, monetarist economists Milton Friedman and Anna Schwartz attributed inflation to excess money supply generated by a central bank. It attributed deflationary spirals to the reverse effect of a failure of a central bank to support the money supply during a liquidity crunch. Friedman proposed a fixed monetary rule, called Friedman's k-percent rule, where the money supply would be calculated by known macroeconomic and financial factors, targeting a specific level or range of inflation.

The Shadow Open Market Committee (SOMC) is an independent group of economists, first organized in 1973 by Professors Karl Brunner, from the University of Rochester, and Allan Meltzer, from Carnegie Mellon University, to provide a monetarist alternative to the views on monetary policy and its inflation effects then prevailing at the Federal Reserve and within the economics profession.

Lost Decade (Japan) period of economic stagnation in Japan following the Japanese asset price bubbles collapse

The Lost Decade or the Lost 10 Years was a period of economic stagnation in Japan following the Japanese asset price bubble's collapse in late 1991 and early 1992. The term originally referred to the years from 1991 to 2000, but recently the decade from 2001 to 2010 is often included so that the whole period is referred to as the Lost Score or the Lost 20 Years. Broadly impacting the entire Japanese economy, over the period of 1995 to 2007, GDP fell from $5.33 trillion to $4.36 trillion in nominal terms, real wages fell around 5%, while the country experienced a stagnant price level. While there is some debate on the extent and measurement of Japan's setbacks, the economic effect of the Lost Decade is well established and Japanese policymakers continue to grapple with its consequences.

History of macroeconomic thought

Macroeconomic theory has its origins in the study of business cycles and monetary theory. In general, early theorists believed monetary factors could not affect real factors such as real output. John Maynard Keynes attacked some of these "classical" theories and produced a general theory that described the whole economy in terms of aggregates rather than individual, microeconomic parts. Attempting to explain unemployment and recessions, he noticed the tendency for people and businesses to hoard cash and avoid investment during a recession. He argued that this invalidated the assumptions of classical economists who thought that markets always clear, leaving no surplus of goods and no willing labor left idle.

The Zero Lower Bound (ZLB) or Zero Nominal Lower Bound (ZNLB) is a macroeconomic problem that occurs when the short-term nominal interest rate is at or near zero, causing a liquidity trap and limiting the capacity that the central bank has to stimulate economic growth.

David I. Meiselman

David I. Meiselman was an American economist. Among his contributions to the field of economics are his work on the term structure of interest rates, the foundation today of the implementation of monetary policy by major central banks, and his work with Milton Friedman on the impact of monetary policy on the performance of the economy and inflation.

References

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  22. Friedman, Milton (April 30, 1998). "Reviving Japan" . Retrieved January 8, 2017. After the U.S. experience during the Great Depression, and after inflation and rising interest rates in the 1970s and disinflation and falling interest rates in the 1980s, I thought the fallacy of identifying tight money with high interest rates and easy money with low interest rates was dead. Apparently, old fallacies never die.
  23. Sumner, Scott (2012), "5. How Nominal GDP Targeting Could Have Prevented the Crash of 2008", in Beckworth, David (ed.), Boom and Bust Banking: The Causes and Cures of the Great Recession, Independent Institute, p. 146–147, ISBN   978-1-59813-076-8, A liquidity trap is not so much associated with low inflation as it is with low NGDP growth. This is because the two components of interest rates – the real rate and the expected inflation rate – are closely linked to the two components of expected NGDP growth – expected real growth and expected inflation. The expected inflation components are identical, and the real interest rate is positively correlated with the expected real GDP growth rate.
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