The Monetary Accord, signed in 1951, was a significant agreement between the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve (the Fed). Its objective was to restore the independence of the Federal Reserve and establish it as the nation's central bank with control over monetary policy. As a result of the accord, the Fed gained the authority to manage the money supply and impact interest rates.
In 1951, the Monetary Accord, also known as the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord, was a crucial agreement between the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board (the Fed). The main achievement of this accord was the restoration of the Federal Reserve's independence, paving the way for the Fed to take on its central role in shaping modern American monetary policy as the nation's central bank.
What Is the Monetary Accord of 1951?
The Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord, signed in 1951, was an agreement between the U.S. Secretary of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve Board. This laid the foundation for the modern Federal Reserve and has significantly influenced its current functioning. In 1913, the Fed was given the responsibility of setting monetary policy, manipulating the money supply, and influencing interest rates. While some argue for the Fed's necessity in stabilizing the economy, others hold it responsible for boom-and-bust cycles. Regardless, the Fed's policies have a substantial influence on the U.S. economy.
Prerequisites of the Accord of 1951
Interest Rates During World War II
In 1941, the United States entered World War II, and a year later, in 1942, the U.S. Treasury asked the Fed, led by Chair Marriner Eccles, to maintain unusually low interest rates. This move aimed to stabilize the securities market and enable the government to borrow money at lower interest rates, supporting the country's war efforts.
Initially, Eccles preferred financing the war through higher taxes rather than low-interest loans to the government. However, due to the urgent demands of the war, he complied with the Treasury Secretary's request and kept interest rates low. To facilitate this, the Fed purchased substantial amounts of government securities.
Interest Rates Post-World War II
After the war ended in 1945, inflation surged to over 17% by 1947, yet interest rates remained pegged at war-time levels. President Truman and the Treasury Secretary sought to safeguard the value of the country's war bonds, resulting in unchanged interest rates despite attempts by the Fed to control inflation.
The Monetary Accord of 1951
In 1951, as the Korean War began, inflation soared to over 21%. Acknowledging the need to prevent further inflation and avoid another depression, the Fed and the Federal Open Market Committee (FMOC) met with President Truman and reached an agreement. This agreement stipulated that the Fed would continue to support the price of five-year notes for a certain period, after which the bond market would assume responsibility for these matters.
The Monetary Accord of 1951 played a significant role in establishing the Federal Reserve's independence and modernizing American monetary policy. While its impact is still debated, it remains a crucial moment in the history of monetary policy.