Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and rate of growth of the money supply, which in turn affects interest rates. Monetary policy is maintained through actions such as modifying the interest rate, buying or selling government bonds, and changing the amount of money banks are required to keep in the vault (bank reserves).
The Bank of Ghana is in charge of Ghana’s monetary policy. [Bank of Ghana Act 2002, (Act 612), Section 27]
BREAKING DOWN ‘Monetary Policy’
Broadly, there are two types of monetary policy, expansionary and contractionary. Expansionary monetary policy increases the money supply in order to lower unemployment, boost private-sector borrowing and consumer spending, and stimulate economic growth. Often referred to as “easy monetary policy,” this description applies to many central banks since the 2008 financial crisis, as interest rates have been low and in many cases near zero.
Contractionary monetary policy slows the rate of growth in the money supply or outright decreases the money supply in order to control inflation; while sometimes necessary, contractionary monetary policy can slow economic growth, increase unemployment and depress borrowing and spending by consumers and businesses. An example would be the Federal Reserve’s intervention in the early 1980s: in order to curb inflation of nearly 15%, the Fed raised its benchmark interest rate to 20%. This hike resulted in a recession, but did keep spiraling inflation in check.
Central banks use a number of tools to shape monetary policy. Open market operations directly affect the money supply through buying short-term government bonds (to expand money supply) or selling them (to contract it). Benchmark interest rates, such as the LIBOR and the Fed funds rate, affect the demand for money by raising or lowering the cost to borrow—in essence, money’s price. When borrowing is cheap, firms will take on more debt to invest in hiring and expansion; consumers will make larger, long-term purchases with cheap credit; and savers will have more incentive to invest their money in stocks or other assets, rather than earn very little—and perhaps lose money in real terms—through savings accounts. Policy makers also manage risk in the banking system by mandating the reserves that banks must keep on hand. Higher reserve requirements put a damper on lending and rein in inflation.
Historical Rate Decisions
Credit: Investopedia, Bank of Ghana