Raising Reserve Requirements to Slow Inflation: China Shows How It's Done

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U.S. economists seem to not understand that central banks can raise reserve requirements as way to control inflation. This is apparently the reason they find it inconceivable that the Fed could buy and hold large amounts of debt without leading to inflation. If the Fed buys and holds the debt, then the interest on the debt would be paid to the Fed and then refunded to the Treasury. In this way it would impose no net cost to taxpayers.

If the Fed were to buy and hold say $3 trillion of the debt being incurred due to the downturn, then it would reduce the projected interest burden in future years by close to $150 billion a year (@ $1.5 trillion over a decade), a bit less than 1.0 percent of GDP. Given the national obsession with reducing the deficit, it would be reasonable to expect that this would be one of the policies on everyone's list.

For some reason it is never mentioned. This is presumably because our economists don't have a very good understanding of economic policy. (They didn't see the $8 trillion housing bubble that wrecked the economy.)

Therefore, this NYT article on how China is raising reserve requirements to slow inflation should be important news to those in economic policy-making positions. China's central bankers would probably even be willing to provide tutorials to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben Bernanke and others to explain how they are raising reserve requirements. Maybe then this policy could be included on the list of ways to reduce the deficit.