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Monetary Policy: Why Money Matters and Interest Rates Don’t

Monetary policy is now conducted by targeting a very short-term interest rate. The Fed and other central banks attempt to control the price level by manipulating aggregate demand by adjusting their interest rate target. At best, money’s role is tertiary. Indeed, a few prominent and influential macroeconomists have suggested that money is not essential, or perhaps is irrelevant, for the determination of the price level. Against this backdrop, this paper argues that the essential feature of money is that it guarantees “final payment” and is essential for price determination. It also suggests that the ability of the central banks to control interest rates may be greatly exaggerated.

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