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For fiscal policy, increased government spending or decreased taxation is our accelerator; the opposite, austerity, is the brake. These work to add or subtract the amount of spending in the economy. For monetary policy, the federal funds rate can act as either an accelerator or a brake. U.S. banks are required to hold reserves at the Fed, which pays interest on them, similar to a normal checking account. For a bank to loan money to a real person, they must find someone willing to pay an interest rate above the Fed’s rate. So if the Fed jacks up the interest rate, it discourages lending, as banks are paid better to park their money at the Fed. Lowering the Fed rate does the opposite. The use of these tools is commonly expressed as a trade-off between unemployment and inflation. Try to push unemployment too low, and inflation will speed up as companies bid for scarce labor, pushing up wages and sending spending surging through the economy. Conversely, allow unemployment to get too high, and a collapse in spending can cause a collapse of prices, which will lead to more unemployment, which will lead to less spending, and so on. Federal Hud Grant
What was going on here? In a modern economy, consumer spending accounts for the vast majority of economic output. But with median incomes growing slowly, if at all, ever-increasing household debt was necessary to sustain aggregate demand. As household debt mounted, the Fed had to keep lowering interest rates to induce greater and greater borrowing (see Graph 3). In theory, that’s not much of a problem—so long as you can keep dialing down interest rates. But here’s the thing: you can’t. Federal Grant-In-Aid Programs Quizlet
Why? Because the economy has evolved to a point where it is vulnerable to mild depressions. In fact, the one we’re in now could persist for decades, as similar conditions have in Japan and other countries. In order to avoid that slow, painful outcome, we need a policy that will jump-start our economy. After three straight years of political gridlock it’s clear that Congress is not going to provide the fiscal stimulus we need, and while the tools the Federal Reserve has at its disposal have helped, they’ve not done enough. If Congress could be persuaded to give the Fed a new tool, one that would let it distribute purchasing power to the broad mass of the population—to “drop money from helicopters,” so to speak—it might be enough to help us escape the nightmare of slow growth and persistent unemployment we’re in now. Federal Grant Recipient Database