June 2021 issue contents
"Unconventional" Monetary Policy as Conventional Monetary Policy: A Perspective from the United States in the 1920s

Mark Carlson and Burcu Duygan-Bump
Federal Reserve Board


To implement monetary policy in the 1920s, the Federal Reserve utilized administered interest rates and conducted open market operations in both government securities and private money market securities, sometimes in fairly considerable amounts. We show how the Federal Reserve was able to effectively use these tools to influence conditions in money markets, even those in which it was not an active participant. Moreover, our results suggest that the transmission of monetary policy to money markets occurred not just through changing the supply of reserves but, importantly, through financial market arbitrage and the rebalancing of investor portfolios. The tools used in the 1920s by the Federal Reserve resemble the extraordinary monetary policy tools used by central banks recently and provide further evidence on their effectiveness even in ordinary times.

JEL Code: E52, E58, N22.

Full article (PDF, 47 pages, 2.1 mb)