Friday, April 30, 2010

FOMC Statement, Part II

My previous post, point 1, reflects some ignorance on my part (the ignorance has now been corrected). The
Federal Reserve Act
specifies that decisions about the interest rate on reserves are made by the Board of Governors, not by the FOMC. Obviously Congress did not think through the issue properly when it amended the Act. Since the interest rate on reserves is now the key policy rate, decisions about how to set it would appropriately reside with the FOMC. An interesting section of the Act is this one:
Balances maintained at a Federal Reserve bank by or on behalf of a depository institution may receive earnings to be paid by the Federal Reserve bank at least once each calendar quarter, at a rate or rates not to exceed the general level of short-term interest rates.
This passage may be vague, but 1-month T-bills are now trading at 0.139% and the interest rate on reserves is 0.25%. The problem is that the Fed cannot do its job and (apparently) conform to the law. The T-bill rate has to be lower now, as the marginal liquidity value of a T-bill is higher than for reserves.

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