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Answer on Macroeconomics Question for kyron regis

Question #32130

If the Fed wants to increase the money supply through open-market operations, what does it do

Expert's answer

An open market operation (also known as OMO) is an activity by a central bank to buy or sell government bonds on the open market. A central bank uses them as the primary means of implementing monetary policy. The usual aim of open market operations is to control the short term interest rate and the supply of base money in an economy, and thus indirectly control the total money supply. This involves meeting the demand of base money at the target interest rate by buying and selling government securities, or other financial instruments. Monetary targets, such as inflation, interest rates, or exchange rates, are used to guide this implementation.


Since most money now exists in the form of electronic records rather than in the form of paper, open market operations are conducted simply by electronically increasing or decreasing (crediting or debiting) the amount of base money that a bank has in its reserve account at the central bank. Thus, the process does not literally require new currency. However, this will increase the central bank's requirement to print currency when the member bank demands banknotes, in exchange for a decrease in its electronic balance.
When there is an increased demand for base money, the central bank must act if it wishes to maintain the short-term interest rate. It does this by increasing the supply of base money. The central bank goes to the open market to buy a financial asset, such as government bonds, foreign currency, gold, or seemingly nonvolatile (until the 2008 financial fallout) MBS's (Mortgage Backed Securities). To pay for these assets, bank reserves in the form of new base money (for example newly printed cash) are transferred to the seller's bank and the seller's account is credited. Thus, the total amount of base money in the economy is increased. Conversely, if the central bank sells these assets in the open market, the amount of base money held by the buyer's bank is decreased, effectively destroying base money.

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