Understanding the Federal Reserve

了解美联储

2019/05/01 22:40
对照中文英文原文
美国联邦储备系统(Federal Reserve System,简称Fed)创建于1913年,由12家地区联邦储备银行和位于华盛顿特区的理事会组成。

The Federal Reserve System (the Fed) was created in 1913 and consists of 12 regional Federal Reserve banks plus the Board of Governors in Washington, DC. Jerome Powell is currently the chair of the Board of Governors. While the Fed has many duties, including bank regulation, monetary policy is by far its most important task. This brief will explain the basics of why the Fed is so important, how it operates, and what it is trying to accomplish with monetary policy. The brief will explain the Fed in four steps:

美国联邦储备系统(Federal Reserve System,简称Fed)创建于1913年,由12家地区联邦储备银行和位于华盛顿特区的理事会组成。杰罗姆·鲍威尔目前是理事会主席。尽管美联储有许多职责,包括银行监管,但货币政策是迄今为止其最重要的任务。这份简报将解释美联储为何如此重要、它是如何运作的,以及它试图通过货币政策实现什么目标。这份简报将分四个步骤来解释美联储:

  • What is the medium-of-account role of money and why is it important?
  • 货币的中介作用是什么?为什么它很重要?
  • How does the Fed control monetary policy?
  • 美联储如何控制货币政策?
  • What is the role of interest rate targeting?
  • 利率目标的作用是什么?
  • What are the Fed’s objectives and how does it try to achieve them?
  • 美联储的目标是什么?它如何努力实现这些目标?

1. Money as a Medium of Account

1. 作为记账媒介的钱

Money plays a special role in the American economy owing to the fact that almost all wages, prices, and debt contracts are priced in terms of US dollars. This means the dollar is Americans’ medium of account, the asset in which all other prices are measured. Furthermore, the Fed has a monopoly on the issuance of the most highly liquid of all types of money, which is called the monetary base. The base consists of both currency in people’s wallets and also reserves that commercial banks have on deposit at the Fed. When the media talks about the government creating money, it is referring to the monetary base.

货币在美国经济中扮演着特殊的角色,因为几乎所有的工资、价格和债务合同都是以美元计价的。这意味着美元是美国人的记账媒介,是衡量其他所有价格的资产。此外,美联储垄断了所有货币中流动性最强的货币的发行,这被称为货币基础。基础包括人们钱包里的货币,以及商业银行在美联储的存款准备金。当媒体谈论政府创造货币时,指的是货币基础。

Unlike with stocks and bonds, which have values that fluctuate in the marketplace, the nominal price of a dollar is always one dollar. But money is not immune to the laws of supply and demand. Its real value (purchasing power) can change over time, just as with any other asset. When money loses value, the loss shows up as a rising price level for goods and services (inflation). In the rare cases where money gains value, the gain shows up as a falling price level (deflation). Thus, if the price level doubles, the value (or purchasing power) of one dollar falls in half, and vice versa.

与股票和债券不同,股票和债券的价值在市场上波动,一美元的名义价格总是一美元。但货币并非不受供求规律的影响。它的实际价值(购买力)会随着时间而变化,就像其他资产一样。当货币贬值时,损失表现为商品和服务价格水平的上升(通货膨胀)。在货币增值的少数情况下,增值表现为价格水平的下降(通货紧缩)。因此,如果价格水平翻倍,一美元的价值(或购买力)就会下降一半,反之亦然。

Fed policy is extremely important because the Fed’s policy tools allow it to determine the average rate of inflation and influence variables such as real GDP, unemployment, interest rates, and exchange rates.

美联储的政策非常重要,因为美联储的政策工具允许它确定平均通胀率,并影响实际GDP、失业率、利率和汇率等变量。

Economists often use the supply and demand model to explain changes in the value of a good, service, or financial asset. Fed policy can also be explained using this model. All the various actions the Fed takes to implement monetary policy, including quantitative easing (QE), interest on bank reserves, and forward guidance, affect the price level by impacting the supply or demand (or both) for base money. Many pundits take shortcuts and overlook the supply and demand implications of monetary policy actions. This can lead to serious misunderstandings regarding the effects of monetary policy.

经济学家经常使用供求模型来解释商品、服务或金融资产价值的变化。美联储的政策也可以用这个模型来解释。美联储为实施货币政策而采取的所有行动,包括量化宽松(QE)、银行准备金利率和前瞻性指引,都会通过影响基础货币的供求(或两者同时)来影响价格水平。许多专家走捷径,忽视了货币政策行动对供需的影响。这可能导致对货币政策效果的严重误解。

2. How the Fed Determines the Supply and Demand for Base Money

2. 美联储如何决定基础货币的供求

Throughout the first 95 years of Fed history (until 2008), monetary policy consisted primarily of Fed actions that increased or decreased the supply of money. When the Fed wished to inject more money into the economy, increasing the supply, it generally purchased Treasury securities with newly created money—an open market purchase. These injections of new money are referred to as expansionary monetary policy or “easy money.” QE is the name given to unusually large open market purchases, generally conducted in an environment of near-zero interest rates.

在美联储历史的前95年(直到2008年),货币政策主要由美联储增加或减少货币供应的行动组成。当美联储希望向经济注入更多资金,增加供给时,它通常会用新发行的货币购买国债——公开市场购买。这些新注入的资金被称为扩张性货币政策或“宽松货币”。QE指的是在接近零利率的环境下进行的异乎寻常的大规模公开市场购买。

In an accounting sense, these open market purchases are quite simple. If the Fed wishes to increase the monetary base by $120 million, then it purchases $120 million worth of Treasuries. The person or institution selling bonds to the Fed receives the newly created base money. This new base money initially goes into bank reserves, but most of it eventually goes out into circulation as currency held by the public. When the Fed wishes to increase the monetary base for only a limited period of time, it will often engage in a repurchase agreement, or repo, where the Fed buys Treasury bonds from the public with a promise to later resell them at a slightly higher price.

从会计意义上讲,这些公开市场的收购相当简单。如果美联储希望将货币基础增加1.2亿美元,那么它将购买价值1.2亿美元的国债。向美联储出售债券的个人或机构将获得新创建的基础货币。这种新的基础货币最初进入银行储备,但大部分最终作为公众持有的货币进入流通。当美联储希望在有限的时间内增加货币基础时,它通常会签订回购协议,即美联储从公众手中购买美国国债,并承诺稍后以略高的价格转售。

If the Fed wishes to reduce the monetary base by $40 million, then it sells $40 million in Treasury bonds, and the money received by the Fed is pulled out of circulation. These open market sales are the primary method by which the Fed implements a contractionary monetary policy, or “tight money,” and are generally aimed at reducing inflation. A “reverse repo” can be used to temporarily reduce the monetary base; the Fed sells bonds to the public with a promise to repurchase them at a specified later date.

如果美联储希望将货币基础减少4000万美元,那么它将出售4000万美元的美国国债,美联储收到的资金将退出流通。这些公开市场销售是美联储实施紧缩货币政策的主要方法,通常旨在降低通胀。“反向回购”可以用来暂时降低货币基础;美联储向公众出售债券,并承诺在特定的日期回购债券。

As with any other asset, an increase in the supply of money tends to reduce its value. Recall that since the price of a dollar is always one dollar, the value of money can only fall with an increase in the overall price of goods and services. Thus, expansionary monetary policy, which increases the supply of money, tends to increase inflation, other things equal. Contractionary monetary policy, which reduces the supply of money, tends to decrease inflation, other things equal.

与任何其他资产一样,货币供应量的增加往往会降低其价值。回想一下,由于1美元的价格总是1美元,货币的价值只能随着商品和服务的总体价格的上涨而下降。因此,在其他条件相同的情况下,扩张性货币政策(即增加货币供应)往往会加剧通胀。在其他条件相同的情况下,紧缩的货币政策,即减少货币供应,往往会降低通货膨胀。

After 2008, monetary policy became more complex. The Fed added policy tools that primarily impact the demand for base money, not just the supply. One particularly important new tool is interest on bank reserves (IOR), where the Fed pays interest on reserves that commercial banks hold at the Fed and adjusts this interest rate to impact monetary conditions.

2008年以后,货币政策变得更加复杂。美联储增加了主要影响基础货币需求的政策工具,而不仅仅是供应。一个特别重要的新工具是银行准备金利率(IOR),美联储向商业银行在美联储持有的准备金支付利息,并调整这一利率,以影响货币环境。

When the Fed seeks a more expansionary monetary policy, it reduces the IOR rate, which makes it less attractive for banks to hold reserves. The resulting fall in the demand for bank reserves is expansionary because less demand for any asset will reduce its value. Recall that a fall in the value of money means a rise in the overall price level. If this relationship seems unclear, consider that a fall in the demand for money is much like an increase in the supply of money. In both cases, members of the public temporarily hold more money than they prefer, and in trying to get rid of these excess cash balances, they boost their spending on consumer and investment goods, which tends to push the price level higher.

当美联储寻求更具扩张性的货币政策时,它会降低现行利率,从而降低银行持有准备金的吸引力。由此导致的银行准备金需求下降是扩张性的,因为对任何资产的需求减少都会降低其价值。回想一下,货币价值的下降意味着整体价格水平的上升。如果这种关系看起来不清楚,那么考虑一下,货币需求的下降与货币供应的增加非常相似。在这两种情况下,公众暂时持有的钱比他们喜欢的要多,为了摆脱这些过剩的现金余额,他们增加了在消费品和投资品上的支出,这往往会推高物价水平。

When the Fed wishes to adopt a more contractionary policy, perhaps to reduce inflation, it seeks to encourage an increase in the demand for money. Thus, it might pay a higher rate of IOR, encouraging banks to hold onto their reserves. An increased demand for reserves will tend to increase the value of money. Recall that this occurs through a fall in the overall price level.

当美联储希望采取更为紧缩的政策,或许是为了降低通胀时,它会寻求鼓励货币需求的增长。因此,它可能会支付更高的IOR利率,鼓励银行保留准备金。对外汇储备的需求增加,往往会增加货币的价值。回想一下,这是通过整体价格水平下降而发生的。

The Fed can also impact the demand for money through forward guidance (that is, creating more bullish or bearish expectations regarding the future path of policy). A promise to keep monetary policy expansionary for a long period will tend to encourage spending today, boosting the price level.

美联储还可以通过前瞻性指引(即对未来政策路径产生更多的看涨或看跌预期)来影响对资金的需求。长期保持货币政策扩张性的承诺,将倾向于鼓励当前的支出,从而推高价格水平。

While all monetary policies work by changing the supply or demand for base money, they can do so through a variety of channels, or transmission mechanisms. An expansionary policy may raise asset prices, increase bank lending, depreciate the dollar in the foreign exchange market, boost inflation expectations, create excess cash balances that spur spending, or cause some combination of those effects. A contractionary policy has the opposite effects.

虽然所有货币政策都是通过改变基础货币的供给或需求来发挥作用的,但它们可以通过各种渠道或传导机制发挥作用。扩张性政策可能会提高资产价格,增加银行贷款,使美元在外汇市场贬值,提高通胀预期,产生刺激消费的过剩现金余额,或造成上述几种效应的某种组合。紧缩政策具有相反的效果。

. The Relationship between Interest Rates and Monetary Policy

。利率与货币政策之间的关系

Even though monetary policy is fundamentally about influencing the supply and demand for money, many reporters, and even some economists, discuss monetary policy by referring to changes in interest rates. The Fed’s Federal Open Market Committee usually sets an interest rate target, and changes in this target are frequently viewed as being equivalent to changes in monetary policy. Low short-term interest rates are often viewed as expansionary policy and high rates as contractionary. Unfortunately, this view is often incorrect and the source of a great deal of misunderstanding.

尽管货币政策的本质是影响货币的供求关系,但许多记者,甚至一些经济学家,都是通过利率的变化来讨论货币政策的。美联储(Fed)的联邦公开市场委员会(fomc)通常设定一个利率目标,而这一目标的变化常常被视为等同于货币政策的变化。低短期利率通常被视为扩张性政策,而高利率则被视为紧缩性政策。不幸的是,这种观点往往是不正确的,并造成了很大的误解。

It is true that expansionary monetary policies usually lead to a temporary decrease in the level of interest rates. For instance, an open market purchase of Treasury bonds doesn’t just boost the money supply; it also tends to reduce short-term interest rates by boosting the amount of liquidity in the economy. Contractionary policies often lead to a temporary increase in short-term interest rates. But it is not generally valid to work backwards and make an inference about monetary policy from a change in interest rates.

诚然,扩张性货币政策通常会导致利率水平的暂时下降。例如,公开市场购买美国国债不仅增加了货币供应量;它还倾向于通过增加经济中的流动性来降低短期利率。紧缩政策常常导致短期利率的暂时上升。但是,从利率的变化来推断货币政策,通常是不正确的。

Those who assume that lower rates are easy money, and vice versa, are engaging in the fallacy of reasoning from a price change. As an analogy, a decrease in the supply of oil will often lead to higher prices for oil, as in 1974 and 1980. But the reverse is not true. It is not always the case that an increase in the price of oil shows that the supply of oil has decreased. For example, global oil prices rose sharply in 2007 and early 2008 owing to a rise in global oil demand, especially from developing countries such as China. Drawing an inference from a price change without first considering whether the price change was caused by a supply shift or a demand shift is called reasoning from a price change.

那些认为低利率是容易赚到的钱,反之亦然的人,正陷入从价格变化进行推理的谬论。打个比方,石油供应的减少常常会导致石油价格上涨,就像1974年和1980年那样。但事实并非如此。石油价格的上涨并不总是意味着石油供应的减少。例如,2007年和2008年初,由于全球石油需求(尤其是来自中国等发展中国家的需求)的增长,全球油价大幅上涨。在不考虑价格变化是由供给变化引起的还是由需求变化引起的情况下,从价格变化中得出推论,这叫做从价格变化中推理。

Interest rates are impacted by many factors, including monetary policy, economic growth, and inflation. An expansionary monetary policy may reduce interest rates in the short run. But it may also boost national output and inflation. Increases in output and inflation often lead to higher interest rates in the long run. Lenders demand higher rates to be compensated for the effects of inflation, and rising output (and incomes) leads to more demand for credit, pushing up interest rates.

利率受到许多因素的影响,包括货币政策、经济增长和通货膨胀。扩张性的货币政策可能在短期内降低利率。但它也可能提高国民产出和通胀。从长远来看,产出和通胀的增长往往会导致利率上升。贷方要求更高的利率来补偿通货膨胀的影响,而不断增长的产出(和收入)导致对信贷的更多需求,从而推高了利率。

Figure 1 illustrates how monetary policy reduces interest rates in the short run but can lead to higher interest rates in the long run. When the money supply expands, it adds more liquidity to the economy and reduces both the nominal and the real (inflation-adjusted) interest rate. This initial decline is called the liquidity effect. However, the expansionary monetary policy also increases income, which boosts demand for credit, pushing interest rates higher (the income effect). Lenders will also raise rates further in anticipation of the higher inflation caused by the increase in the money supply (the Fisher effect).

图1说明了货币政策如何在短期内降低利率,但在长期内可能导致更高的利率。当货币供应扩张时,它会给经济增加更多的流动性,降低名义利率和实际利率(经通胀调整后)。这种最初的下降被称为流动性效应。然而,扩张性的货币政策也会增加收入,从而刺激信贷需求,推高利率(收入效应)。由于预期货币供应的增加(费雪效应)将导致更高的通胀,贷款机构还将进一步加息。

Thus, interest rates rose sharply from 1965 to 1981, but not because monetary policy was contractionary. Indeed, this period (called the Great Inflation) saw some of the most expansionary monetary policy in American history. The expanding money supply led to high inflation, which boosted nominal interest rates to a peak of almost 20 percent. Conversely, a very contractionary monetary policy during the early 1930s led to deflation and very low interest rates.

因此,从1965年到1981年,利率大幅上升,但并不是因为货币政策紧缩。事实上,这段时期(称为“大通胀”)见证了美国历史上一些最具扩张性的货币政策。不断扩大的货币供应导致了高通胀,这将名义利率推高至近20%的峰值。相反,上世纪30年代初,非常紧缩的货币政策导致了通缩和极低的利率。

When evaluating Fed policy, one shouldn’t just look at interest rates. Rather, one should focus on changes in variables such as inflation and GDP. If interest rates are low, but inflation and GDP are also falling, then the low rates may reflect broader macroeconomic forces, not easy money.

在评估美联储政策时,我们不应该只看利率。相反,我们应该关注通胀和GDP等变量的变化。如果利率很低,但通胀和GDP也在下降,那么低利率可能反映的是更广泛的宏观经济力量,而不是宽松的货币政策。

Because interest rates are not a reliable indicator of monetary policy, many economists (including Ben Bernanke) believe that changes in nominal GDP provide a better indication of whether monetary policy is too easy or too tight. Nominal GDP growth is composed of the sum of inflation and growth in real GDP. To better understand the importance of nominal GDP growth, it’s important to understand the Fed’s congressional mandate, sometimes called the “dual mandate.”

由于利率不是货币政策的可靠指标,许多经济学家(包括本•伯南克)认为,名义GDP的变化能够更好地反映货币政策是过于宽松还是过于紧缩。名义GDP增长由通货膨胀和实际GDP增长之和构成。为了更好地理解名义GDP增长的重要性,理解美联储的国会授权是很重要的,有时被称为“双重授权”。

4. The Fed’s Policy Goals and How to Achieve Them

4. 美联储的政策目标以及如何实现这些目标

In 1978, Congress gave the Fed a mandate to achieve stable prices, high employment, and moderate long-term interest rates. The Fed believes that it can only achieve moderate long-term interest rates by keeping inflation low and stable. Thus, as a practical matter, the Fed focuses on price stability and high employment—the dual mandate. The Fed interprets price stability as 2 percent inflation and interprets high employment as an unemployment rate that is close to the natural rate, estimated to be roughly 4 percent. However, the natural unemployment rate is not completely constant, and estimates can vary over time.

1978年,国会授权美联储实现稳定的物价、高就业率和温和的长期利率。美联储认为,只有保持低通胀和稳定,才能实现温和的长期利率。因此,作为一个实际问题,美联储关注的是价格稳定和高就业——这是双重任务。美联储把物价稳定解释为2%的通货膨胀,把高就业率解释为接近自然失业率的失业率,估计大约为4%。然而,自然失业率并不是完全恒定的,估计数字可能会随着时间而变化。

Notice that 2 percent inflation isn’t exactly “price stability”; indeed, 0 percent inflation would seem to better meet that definition. For a variety of reasons, the Fed prefers a 2 percent inflation target. Fed officials worry that a 0 percent average inflation rate would occasionally lead to deflation, which can result in high unemployment (violating the other part of the Fed’s dual mandate). They also worry that with 0 percent inflation, the nominal interest rate would also frequently fall to zero, making it harder to conduct monetary policy. Thus, the 2 percent inflation target is a compromise—higher than true price stability, but much lower than the inflation of the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. To summarize, 2 percent inflation and roughly 4 percent unemployment is how the Fed currently interprets its dual mandate.

请注意,2%的通胀并不完全是“价格稳定”;事实上,0%的通胀率似乎更符合这个定义。出于各种原因,美联储更倾向于2%的通胀目标。美联储官员担心,0%的平均通胀率偶尔会导致通货紧缩,从而导致高失业率(违反美联储双重任务的另一部分)。他们还担心,在通货膨胀率为零的情况下,名义利率也会经常降至零,从而加大实施货币政策的难度。因此,2%的通胀目标是一种妥协——高于真正的价格稳定,但远低于上世纪60年代、70年代和80年代的通胀水平。总而言之,2%的通胀率和大约4%的失业率是美联储目前对其双重使命的解读。

When inflation is above 2 percent, the Fed may conduct a contractionary monetary policy. This might consist of open market sales to reduce the monetary base or an increase in IOR to encourage banks to hold onto reserves and not move the money out into the economy where it would be spent. By reducing the supply of money or boosting the demand for money, or both, the Fed raises the value of money, which holds down inflation.

当通货膨胀率超过2%时,美联储可能会采取紧缩的货币政策。这可能包括公开市场销售,以降低货币基础,或提高IOR,以鼓励银行持有外汇储备,而不是将资金转移到将用于支出的经济体中。通过减少货币供应或增加货币需求,或两者兼而有之,美联储提高了货币的价值,从而抑制了通货膨胀。

When inflation is less than 2 percent, the Fed may conduct an expansionary monetary policy. This might consist of open market purchases to boost the monetary base or a decrease in IOR to discourage banks from holding onto reserves. In both cases, the goal is to reduce the value of money, by either increasing the money supply or reducing money demand. If successful, the fall in the value of money will lead to higher prices, moving inflation up toward the 2 percent target.

当通货膨胀率低于2%时,美联储可能实施扩张性货币政策。这可能包括公开市场购买以提振货币基础,或者降低IOR以阻止银行持有准备金。在这两种情况下,目标都是通过增加货币供应或减少货币需求来降低货币的价值。如果成功,货币贬值将导致物价上涨,使通货膨胀率上升到2%的目标。

Notice that the Fed may adopt an expansionary or contractionary policy to move toward the 2 percent inflation target. In the real world, things are more complicated owing to the dual mandate. Inflation may be currently off target but expected to return to 2 percent in the near future. And in some cases, it’s not possible to simultaneously achieve both sides of the dual mandate, and the Fed must strike a balance between the effects of monetary policy on inflation and its effects on employment.

请注意,美联储可能会采取扩张性或紧缩性政策,朝着2%的通胀目标迈进。在现实世界中,由于双重任务,事情变得更加复杂。通货膨胀目前可能偏离目标,但预计在不久的将来会回到2%。在某些情况下,不可能同时实现双重任务的两面,美联储必须在货币政策对通胀的影响和对就业的影响之间取得平衡。

Recall that nominal GDP growth is the sum of inflation and real GDP growth. Because real GDP is closely linked to the employment part of the dual mandate, some economists favor a nominal GDP target growth rate of roughly 4 percent or 5 percent, suggesting that this would provide for roughly 2 percent inflation in the long run, plus enough money to support 2 percent or 3 percent real GDP growth.

回想一下名义GDP增长是通胀和实际GDP增长的总和。因为实际GDP就业密切相关双重使命的一部分,一些经济学家支持名义GDP目标增长率约4%或5%,这表明这将提供约2%的通胀率从长远来看,加上足够的钱来支持实际GDP增长2%或3%。

Summary

总结

The Fed influences macroeconomic variables such as inflation, unemployment, GDP, and interest rates by adjusting the supply and demand for base money. Because the Fed has a monopoly in the production of base money, it has almost unlimited ability to influence its value, which is why Congress gave the Fed the duty of stabilizing the price level. After all, the price level is merely the inverse of the value of money. Controlling inflation means stabilizing the value of money.

美联储通过调整基础货币的供给和需求来影响宏观经济变量,如通货膨胀、失业、GDP和利率。由于美联储垄断基础货币的生产,它几乎有无限的能力影响其价值,这就是为什么国会赋予美联储稳定物价水平的责任。毕竟,价格水平只是货币价值的反比。控制通货膨胀意味着稳定货币的价值。

Because the Fed sets a short-term interest rate target, changes in that target are often a headline story in the financial press. However, there are actually many different forces that impact market interest rates, and low interest rates do not necessarily imply that an easy money policy is in effect. Some economists believe that the underlying movement in nominal GDP growth may provide a better indication of whether policy is easy or tight, relative to the underlying goals of Fed policy.

由于美联储设定了一个短期利率目标,这一目标的变化常常成为金融媒体的头条新闻。然而,实际上有许多不同的力量影响市场利率,低利率并不一定意味着宽松的货币政策是有效的。一些经济学家认为,相对于美联储政策的基本目标,名义国内生产总值(GDP)增长的基本走势可能更好地反映出政策是宽松还是紧缩。

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