From here (pdf
). Eccles is speaking about the Fed's ability (since withdrawn) to lend directly to the Treasury without the intermediation of the market:
Mr. SPENCE. I assume the reason the authority was repealed in 1935 was because of the existing conditions, then, when there was no reason for the authority: is that correct?
Mr. ECCLES. Well, as I remember the discussion—and I have referred to it in this statement—there was a feeling that this left the door wide open to the Government to borrow directly from the Federal Reserve bank all that was necessary to finance the Government deficit, and that took off any restraint toward getting a balanced budget.
Of course, in my opinion, that really had no relationship to budgetary deficits, for the reason that it is the Congress which decides on the deficits or the surpluses, and not the Treasury. If Congress appropriates more money than Congress levies taxes to pay, then, there is naturally a deficit, and the Treasury is obligated to borrow. The fact that they cannot go directly to the Federal Reserve bank to borrow does not mean that they cannot go indirectly to the Federal Reserve bank, for the very reason that there is no limit to the amount that the Federal Reserve System can buy in the market. That is the way the war was financed.
Therefore, if the Treasury has to finance a heavy deficit, the Reserve System creates the condition in the money market to enable the borrowing to be done, so that, in effect, the Reserve System indirectly finances the Treasury through the money market, and that is how the interest rates were stabilized as they were during the war, and as they will have to continue to be in the future.
So it is an illusion to think that to eliminate or to restrict the direct borrowing privilege reduces the amount of deficit financing. Or that the market controls the interest rate. Neither is true.
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