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The Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy Toolkit: Past, Present, and Future

August 29, 2016 / Source: FRB

Chair Janet L. Yellen
At "Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future," a symposium sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, Jackson Hole, Wyoming

August 26, 2016

The Federal Reserve's Monetary Policy Toolkit: Past, Present, and Future

The Global Financial Crisis and Great Recession posed daunting new challenges for central banks around the world and spurred innovations in the design, implementation, and communication of monetary policy. With the U.S. economy now nearing the Federal Reserve's statutory goals of maximum employment and price stability, this conference provides a timely opportunity to consider how the lessons we learned are likely to influence the conduct of monetary policy in the future.

The theme of the conference, "Designing Resilient Monetary Policy Frameworks for the Future," encompasses many aspects of monetary policy, from the nitty-gritty details of implementing policy in financial markets to broader questions about how policy affects the economy. Within the operational realm, key choices include the selection of policy instruments, the specific markets in which the central bank participates, and the size and structure of the central bank's balance sheet. These topics are of great importance to the Federal Reserve. As noted in the minutes of last month's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting, we are studying many issues related to policy implementation, research which ultimately will inform the FOMC's views on how to most effectively conduct monetary policy in the years ahead. I expect that the work discussed at this conference will make valuable contributions to the understanding of many of these important issues.

My focus today will be the policy tools that are needed to ensure that we have a resilient monetary policy framework. In particular, I will focus on whether our existing tools are adequate to respond to future economic downturns. As I will argue, one lesson from the crisis is that our pre-crisis toolkit was inadequate to address the range of economic circumstances that we faced. Looking ahead, we will likely need to retain many of the monetary policy tools that were developed to promote recovery from the crisis. In addition, policymakers inside and outside the Fed may wish at some point to consider additional options to secure a strong and resilient economy. But before I turn to these longer-run issues, I would like to offer a few remarks on the near-term outlook for the U.S. economy and the potential implications for monetary policy.

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