Interest rate management policies

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  • Replicability requires the consideration of sustainable ways by which services can be provided to unserved populations across a particular coun- try. To provide a sustainable level of service will, in some cases, require significant reforms: financial reforms at the sector level, reforms of bud- getary systems, reforms in subsidy levels, reforms of user charges, and so on. This is a tough menu of reforms to be carried out by social funds; indeed, social funds cannot undertake reforms of this extent.

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  • I came to view the process by which a central bank manages the interbank rate in a different light a few years ago in a paper on the zero bound on interest rate policy. 8 Obviously, at the zero bound it is no longer possible for a central bank to operate on the interest opportunity cost spread. The spread is zero. Nevertheless, a central bank still may be said to manage the interbank rate when it is zero. Thus, something other than open market operations and the interest opportunity cost spread must matter for the implementation of interest rate policy. Irving...

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  • The interest-on-reserves regime has four attractive features. First, the regime would make full use of two monetary policy instruments—open market operations and interest on reserves—to enable a central bank to simultaneously pursue interest rate policy and an independent objective for aggregate bank reserves. That would potentially improve on the Fed’s current operating procedures that obligate bank reserves to support interest rate policy.

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  • Recent experience illustrates this point. Consider the fact that the Fed cut interest rates sharply in response to two of the most serious financial crises in recent years: the October 1987 stock market break and the turmoil following the Russian default in 1998. Arguably, in retrospect, interest rate policy remained too easy for too long in both cases.

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  • The emphasis that firms in all three sectors are placing on risk management and risk measurement issues is encouraging. This should result in stronger and better managed firms. The ability to improve risk quantification can provide important tools for assessing risk/return trade-offs and encourage sound risk management practices. However, firms need to understand the limitations of such methodologies and should supplement these where necessary, for example through stress testing.

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  • In the past, the government often tried to ensure that we pay "a fair rate" of interest by implementing usury ceilings or limits on the rates that lenders can charge. During the 1980s there was a general trend toward eliminating or raising these limits as policy-makers reacted to the high inflation and record interest rates of the late 1970s. During the early 1990s, however, the trend reversed as some suggested that caps should be placed on credit card rates, which remained at historically high levels while other key interest rates declined significantly.

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  • Governments everywhere responded to the panic by pumping more equity into banks, greatly expanding the ambit of their deposit insurance, and opening up various central bank discount windows for distress borrowers. This gigantic effort seems to have reduced counterparty party risk, the fear of bank failure, in interbank trading. Figure 1 shows the one- month LIBOR rate coming down close to the Fed funds rate, now near zero, by mid 2009.

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  • This book provides detailed descriptions of the various money market instruments and the markets in which they are used. Where possible, the book tries to explain the historical forces that led to the development of an instrument, influenced its pattern of growth, and led to new forms of the instrument. A major focus in the book is the Federal Reserve, which, in addition to its monetary policy role, plays an important role as a regulator in a number of the markets. Much of the discussion in the book deals with the period...

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  • The risk-free yield curve also has fundamental implications for financial stability. It defines the terms of maturity transformation in an economy. Partly because of regulation, the “safe” assets that banks and institutional investors hold on their balance sheets are largely government bonds. The yield on government bonds will influence other risk exposures taken by the financial industry. And it is long-term rates – not short-term rates – that help determine the prices of long-term assets.

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  • Furthermore, debt management policies can be all the more effective in the special case of the zero lower bound (ZLB). This is because policies aimed at shortening the duration of debt held by the public (ie selling Treasury bills and buying government bonds) may lower long-term yields without raising short-term yields, which are glued close to zero at the ZLB. But note that the corollary of the ZLB argument on its own is a policy asymmetry. Central banks may need to buy government bonds when at the ZLB if they want to stimulate demand. But they have no need to...

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  • In the current crisis, the Keynesian response of stimulating aggregate demand through easy money and loose fiscal policy is correct to a point. But flooding the system with excess liquidity that drives short-term interest rates to near zero has been a serious mistake. By the end of 2008, the interest rates on federal funds and short-term Treasury Bills were virtually zero— where they remain today (figure 1). In this liquidity trap, the interbank market remains almost paralyzed so that further Fed injections of liquidity simply led to a buildup of excess reserves in U.S.

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  • The international consequences of zero-interest-rate policies are also negative. With interbank markets in the U.S. and Europe congested, forward foreign exchange markets become more difficult to organize. Without forward cover, exporters and importers find it more difficult to secure normal letters of credit. In the financial panic of 2008, foreign trade imploded much more than domestic trade. In addition, the Fed’s zero interest rate strategy inevitably weakens the dollar in the foreign exchanges.

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  • As laid down by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision, a key require- ment for the proper management of a bank’s interest rate risk is the defi nition of the relevant principles and processes based on proportionality. More specifi cally, it is important to clearly defi ne responsibilities and accountability in taking risk management decisions as well as what kind of instruments are eligible. The purposes or goals for which eligible instruments may be used need to be specifi ed as well.

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  • But uncertainty about the path of future interest rates (and differences in investor preferences) will make debt of different maturities imperfect substitutes. Because of this, changes in the mix of short-term and long-term bonds offered by the government will change relative prices and thus influence the shape of the yield curve. At the same time, monetary policy based on setting the policy rate becomes less effective: the lower the degree of asset substitutability, the weaker the transmission of changes in the overnight rate to other interest rates.

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  • Consider a security that has a coupon rate that floats off of the London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Such a security might pay a coupon rate of Libor plus 50 basis points. However, if there is a cap that limits the coupon to 7 percent, then when LIBOR reaches 6.50 percent, any further increases in LIBOR will not result in any increases in the coupon rate on the security. Floating-rate investments with interest rate caps include CMO floaters and adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM) securities. The longer cash flows remain outstanding on such securities, the greater...

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  • Paying interest on reserves would seem to be expensive from the Treasury’s point of view. Interest earnings ordinarily transferred by a central bank as tax revenue to the Treasury would be diverted to pay interest on reserves. Moreover, the payment of interest on reserves would induce banks to enlarge substantially the quantity of reserves demanded, greatly enlarging the interest that a central bank would have to pay.

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  • As California local agencies are becoming involved in the interest rate swap market, knowledge of the basics of pric ing swaps may assist issuers to better understand initial, mark-to-market, and termination costs associated with their swap programs. This report is intended to provide treasury managers and staff with a basic overview of swap math and related pric ing conventions.

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  • Having studied the effect of monetary policy and capital ows shocks on housing activity, our second contribution is to explore how nancial innovation affects the transmission of the two shocks. Using an index of mortgage market development constructed in IMF (2008), 1 we split our sample in two groups of countries (with high and low mortgage market development) and estimate our panel VAR model across the two subsamples. We also split the sample using the ratio of mortgage debt to GDP in 2004.

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  • Government incentives and guarantees can then also be used – from support for research and development (R&D) - which affects operational efficiency- to investment incentives (capital grants, loan guarantees and low-interest rate loans), taxes (accelerated depreciation, tax credits, tax exemptions and rebates), and price-based policies at the output stage (which affect revenue streams - e.g. feed-in tariffs), or policies which target the cost of investment in capital by hedging or mitigating risk.

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  • The paper entitled “International Convergence of Capital Measurement and Capital Requirements” 15 published by the Basel Committee on Banking Super- vision provides only general information on interest rate risk in the banking book. More specifi c information is contained in an additional paper entitled “Principles for the Management and Supervision of Interest Rate Risk” (July 2004).

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