Assessing Real Interest Rates
Since the late 1970s, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) of the Federal Reserve System has set ranges for growth of money and debt at the beginning of each year, as required by the Humphrey-Hawkins Act. These ranges are reconsidered at the FOMC’s July meeting, where preliminary ranges are chosen for the next calendar year. Monetary targets were intended not only as policy guides, but also as a means to communicate the thrust of monetary policy to others—particularly in regard to its long-term intentions. For example, in the 1980s the FOMC sought to slow trend money growth in order to reduce the inflation rate over time. Financial markets have thus paid a great deal of attention to monetary targets.
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