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How the Federal Reserve’s Monetary Policy Implementation Framework Has Evolved

In a series of four posts, we review key elements of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy implementation framework. The framework has changed markedly in the last two decades. Prior to the global financial crisis, the Fed used a system of scarce reserves

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In a series of four posts, we review key elements of the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy implementation framework. The framework has changed markedly in the last two decades. Prior to the global financial crisis, the Fed used a system of scarce reserves and fine-tuned the supply of reserves to maintain rate control. However, since then, the Fed has operated in a floor system, where active management of the supply of reserves no longer plays a role in rate control, but rather the Fed’s administered rates influence the federal funds rate. In this first post, we discuss the salient features of the implementation framework in a stylized way.

Pre 2008, Reserve Scarcity

Before October 2008, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) communicated the stance of monetary policy by announcing a target for the federal funds rate. The Fed would then use open market operations to make small adjustments to the supply of reserves so that the effective federal funds rate (EFFR) would print close to the target set by the FOMC. This type of implementation regime that relies on reserve scarcity is often referred to as a corridor system (as explained in this article). Under this framework, depository institutions, or banks, were incentivized to hold as few reserves as possible since they did not earn interest on their Fed account balances. Reserve balances that banks held in their Fed accounts added up to a very small amount, as can be seen in the next chart. The banking system operated with aggregate reserve scarcity and relied on the redistribution of reserves in an active interbank market.

Post 2008, Reserve Abundance

With the onset of the global financial crisis (GFC), the Fed introduced liquidity facilities and conducted large-scale asset purchases (LSAPs) to improve conditions in financial markets and stimulate the economy. Although these actions primarily influenced conditions through lending against and purchasing specific assets, they also added a substantial amount of reserves to the banking system. As shown in the chart below, at the beginning of 2009, reserves in the banking system exceeded $800 billion, compared to approximately $10 billion pre-crisis. Over subsequent years, the FOMC continued to conduct asset purchases to promote a stronger economic recovery and reserves continued to increase until late 2014.

Reserve Balances Have Seen Significant Expansion


Source: Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED).

With the significant expansion of reserves in the banking system, rate control was challenging to achieve through the previous corridor system because reserves were not scarce anymore (more details can be found in this report). Small changes in the supply of reserves no longer impacted the fed funds rate. Effective October 1, 2008, Congress gave the Fed a new tool that can help control the fed funds rate in such circumstances: the authority to pay banks interest on reserves. We will refer to this tool as interest on reserve balances (IORB) throughout the blog series, consistent with a recent rule change. As shown in the chart below that illustrates the banking system demand curve for reserves, at large quantities of reserves, the demand curve becomes flat around the IORB rate because it sets a floor below which banks should be unwilling to lend. In this new regime, the FOMC announces a target range for the fed funds rate, and the Fed uses IORB, together with other tools that we will discuss in upcoming posts, to maintain the EFFR (shown by the red circle in the chart) within the range. This type of implementation regime is often referred to as a floor system.

Banking System Reserve Demand Curve


Notes: The discount window rate is the interest rate charged to depository institutions on loans they receive from the discount window facility. The overnight reverse repurchase agreement (ON RRP) rate is the maximum interest rate that the Federal Reserve is willing to pay at the ON RRP facility. IORB is interest on reserve balances. The effective federal funds rate (EFFR) is represented by the red circle, where the demand for reserves and the supply of reserves intersect.

Rate control through the floor system has proven to be very effective. The next chart shows the IORB rate and the EFFR between 2009 and 2021. Over that period, the EFFR remained close to the IORB rate, showing that with IORB (along with the assistance of other implementation tools), the Fed has been able to maintain its control of the fed funds rate even when reserves are not scarce. Moreover, as expected in floor systems, fluctuations in the supply of reserves did not lead to large swings in the fed funds rate. After a review of the experience, the FOMC announced that it would continue to implement monetary policy in the current framework.

The EFFR Has Remained Close to the IORB Rate


Sources: Federal Reserve Economic Data (FRED); authors’ calculations.
Notes: EFFR is effective federal funds rate. IORB is interest on reserve balances. The shaded area represents the Federal Open Market Committee target range for the federal funds rate. Month-end observations are dropped.

Benefits of the New Framework

A comprehensive review of costs and benefits of the new framework is beyond the scope of this post. In this section, we review the main benefits of implementing policy using the current framework. 

First and foremost, as noted earlier, the framework has to date been very effective at maintaining rate control and has shown strong resilience to shifts both in the supply of and demand for reserves. In addition to the key role of IORB, other policy tools, such as overnight reverse repurchase agreement (ON RRP) operations, repurchase agreement operations, and technical adjustments to IORB and the ON RRP rates, have also played important roles. We discuss these tools in more detail in our next three posts.

Second, the current framework is robust to environments where the Fed needs to expand its balance sheet to address shocks or economic downturns, which has the effect of substantially increasing reserves in the banking system. This was a key benefit of the framework in 2008 and it proved valuable again in March 2020, when the financial system was buffeted by stress related to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, this framework allows the Fed to use LSAPs to provide accommodation during zero lower bound periods without being concerned about the need to reestablish reserve scarcity before interest rates can be lifted.

Finally, another benefit worth mentioning is related to financial stability. The framework allows the Fed to supply more of the most liquid asset—reserves—to the banking system, making banks more resilient. Reserves are an important asset for banks to hold in their buffers of high-quality liquid assets, mandated by the Basel III regulations, to meet unexpected outflows and as elements of their resolution and risk management plans. Indeed, in contrast to other assets, reserves don’t need to be turned into cash, because they already are cash and can be used immediately to satisfy payment obligations (See this Liberty Street Economics post for more detail).

Summing Up and Looking Ahead

In this post, we described how the Fed’s monetary policy implementation framework changed from one that required reserve scarcity to control interest rates to one that relies primarily on administered rates. Our description of the current system was stylized and focused on banks’ reserve demand curve and authority to pay interest on reserve balances. However, the financial system in the United States is complex and banks represent only one segment of financial market activity. As such, the Fed uses additional tools to help support rate control in a system where non-bank institutions also affect the transmission of monetary policy. In the next three posts, we describe these tools in the context of the Fed’s floor system and discuss how adjustments to these tools maintain rate control.


Gara Afonso is an assistant vice president in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Research and Statistics Group.

Lorie Logan

Lorie Logan is an executive vice president in the Bank’s Markets Group and manager of the System Open Market Account for the Federal Open Market Committee.


Antoine Martin
 is a senior vice president in the Bank’s Research and Statistics Group.

William Riordan is an assistant vice president in the Bank’s Markets Group.

Patricia Zobel is a vice president in the Bank’s Markets Group and deputy manager of the System Open Market Account for the Federal Open Market Committee.


Disclaimer
The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or the Federal Reserve System. Any errors or omissions are the responsibility of the authors.

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Public support for extending the 14-day rule on human embryo research indicated by foundational dialogue project

The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded…

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The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded Human Developmental Biology Initiative (HDBI). The HDBI is an ambitious scientific endeavour to advance our understanding of human development. The dialogue project, which was co-funded by UKRI Sciencewise programme, engaged a diverse group of the public to consider how early human embryo research can be used to its fullest, the 14-day rule and the fast-paced field of stem cell-based embryo models.

Credit: Dr Matteo Molè (Babraham Institute)

The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded Human Developmental Biology Initiative (HDBI). The HDBI is an ambitious scientific endeavour to advance our understanding of human development. The dialogue project, which was co-funded by UKRI Sciencewise programme, engaged a diverse group of the public to consider how early human embryo research can be used to its fullest, the 14-day rule and the fast-paced field of stem cell-based embryo models.

Headline findings include:

  • Appetite for review of the 14-day rule: Participants recognised that extending the 14-day rule could open up ways to achieve benefits in fertility and health, with participant support for reviewing this, including national discussion.
  • Confidence in regulation: There was a high level of confidence in how human embryo research is regulated, despite a low level of awareness of the regulators and statutes themselves. This included strong desire to see robust regulation governing any changes to the 14-day rule and further regulation for the use of stem cell-based embryo models.
  • Support for improved fertility and health outcomes: The strongest hopes for future human embryo research were where new knowledge would deliver improvements in understanding miscarriage, preventing health conditions such as spina bifida and raising the success rates of IVF procedures.
  • Concerns about genetically engineering humans: The public expressed concerns on the application of developments in this field to genetically alter or engineer humans.

The dialogue engaged a group of 70 people broadly reflective of the UK population in over 15 hours of activities including a series of online and face-to-face workshops with scientists, ethicists, philosophers, policy makers and people with relevant lived experience (such as embryo donors from IVF procedures).

Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn, scientific lead for the HDBI and senior group leader at the Babraham Institute, said: “Recent scientific advances bring incredible new opportunities to study and understand the earliest stages of human development. To ensure this research remains aligned with society’s values and expectations, we must listen and respond to public desires and concerns. This public dialogue is an important first step and as a scientist I am reassured by the findings but there is still a long way to go to fully understand this complex issue.” 

The report is exceedingly timely, following notable scientific advances in human developmental biology presented at conferences and in leading scientific journals in recent months. As well as generating excitement in scientific fields and with the public, announcement of these breakthroughs also prompted some concerns and criticisms, with the view that these findings raised significant ethical issues. The dialogue provides insight into public considerations following deliberation on early human embryo research. The hope is that it will act as a foundational reference point that others in the sectors can build upon, such as in any future review of the law on embryo research.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, co-chair of the HDBI Oversight group, senior group leader and head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “We have learnt a lot about human development before 14 days, but there are areas of investigation that could change how we understand development, and associated diseases, that lie beyond our current window of knowledge. Despite low awareness of current laws, members of the public quickly recognised many of the critical issues researchers are keenly aware of when it comes to growing embryos beyond the current limit. This dialogue also reinforced the fact that the public are in support of research that will yield better health outcomes, and in this case, increase the success of IVF procedures.

Other countries will be looking to the UK to see how we deal with the 14-day rule; we are not there yet with any mandate to make a change, but this does give a strong pointer. The next step will be to delve deeper into some of the topics raised through this dialogue as they apply to specific areas of research, as well as feeding into policy changes.”

The 14-day rule and the regulation of stem cell-based models

When considering the regulation of research involving human embryos, the dialogue explored participant’s views on the 14-day rule. Introduced in 1990, the 14-day rule is a limit enforced by statute in the UK. It applies to early human embryos that are donated by consent to research and embryos that are created for research from donated sperm and eggs. It limits the amount of time early human embryos can be developed in a laboratory for scientific study to 14 days after fertilisation. Due to technical advances, it is now possible to grow embryos in the lab past 14 days, but researchers are not allowed to by the law. If the law changed, it would open up this ‘black box’ of development with researchers able to investigate this crucial time in development from 14-28 days after fertilisation.

Professor Bobbie Farsides, co-chair of the HDBI Oversight group and Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “It has been a fascinating experience to support HDBI in the undertaking of this exercise.  I commend the participants for the care and mutual respect they have shown throughout. Their engagement and commitment to a subject few of them had previously considered allowed for a wide range of views to be expressed and considered. I hope the scientists involved will be encouraged by the high level of interest in their work, and will want to keep the public conversation going around these important subjects.”

The dialogue included participant discussion on what a change to the 14-day rule might look like, and identified points that should be considered, such as defining what the benefits of extending the rule would be and potential mis-alignment with human embryo research regulations in other countries.

Participants acknowledged the astonishing possibilities of stem cell-based embryo models. The majority of participants would like to see these models further regulated. Work in establishing potential governance mechanisms is already underway. In recognition of the need for additional guidance and regulation in this area, the Cambridge Reproduction initiative launched a project in March 2023 to develop a governance framework for research using stem cell-based embryo models and to promote responsible, transparent and accountable research.

Future steps

A key outcome from the public dialogue is the identification of areas for further exploration, with participants proposing how future national conversations might be shaped. It is hoped that the project acts as a reference base for both widening engagement with the subject and also prompting deeper exploration of areas of concern.

Dr Michael Norman, HDBI Public Dialogue coordinator and Public Engagement Manager at the Babraham Institute, said: “This dialogue shows that people want the public to work closely with scientists and the government to shape both future embryo research legislation and scientific research direction. It is crucial that others in the sector build on these high quality, two-way engagement methodologies that allow for a genuine exchange of views and information to ensure that the public’s desires and concerns are listened to and respected. Transparency and openness around science is vital for public trust and through this we, as a society, can shape UK research in way that enriches the outcomes for all.”

Public Participant (Broad public group, south) said: “I do think that an extension of this public dialogue, and educating a wider society has a benefit in itself. This is really complex and sensitive and the wider you talk about it before decisions are made, the better.”


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Public support for extending the 14-day rule on human embryo research indicated by foundational dialogue project

The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded…

Published

on

The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded Human Developmental Biology Initiative (HDBI). The HDBI is an ambitious scientific endeavour to advance our understanding of human development. The dialogue project, which was co-funded by UKRI Sciencewise programme, engaged a diverse group of the public to consider how early human embryo research can be used to its fullest, the 14-day rule and the fast-paced field of stem cell-based embryo models.

Credit: Dr Matteo Molè (Babraham Institute)

The findings of a foundational UK public dialogue on human embryo research are published today, Wednesday 25th October 2023, as part of the Wellcome-funded Human Developmental Biology Initiative (HDBI). The HDBI is an ambitious scientific endeavour to advance our understanding of human development. The dialogue project, which was co-funded by UKRI Sciencewise programme, engaged a diverse group of the public to consider how early human embryo research can be used to its fullest, the 14-day rule and the fast-paced field of stem cell-based embryo models.

Headline findings include:

  • Appetite for review of the 14-day rule: Participants recognised that extending the 14-day rule could open up ways to achieve benefits in fertility and health, with participant support for reviewing this, including national discussion.
  • Confidence in regulation: There was a high level of confidence in how human embryo research is regulated, despite a low level of awareness of the regulators and statutes themselves. This included strong desire to see robust regulation governing any changes to the 14-day rule and further regulation for the use of stem cell-based embryo models.
  • Support for improved fertility and health outcomes: The strongest hopes for future human embryo research were where new knowledge would deliver improvements in understanding miscarriage, preventing health conditions such as spina bifida and raising the success rates of IVF procedures.
  • Concerns about genetically engineering humans: The public expressed concerns on the application of developments in this field to genetically alter or engineer humans.

The dialogue engaged a group of 70 people broadly reflective of the UK population in over 15 hours of activities including a series of online and face-to-face workshops with scientists, ethicists, philosophers, policy makers and people with relevant lived experience (such as embryo donors from IVF procedures).

Dr Peter Rugg-Gunn, scientific lead for the HDBI and senior group leader at the Babraham Institute, said: “Recent scientific advances bring incredible new opportunities to study and understand the earliest stages of human development. To ensure this research remains aligned with society’s values and expectations, we must listen and respond to public desires and concerns. This public dialogue is an important first step and as a scientist I am reassured by the findings but there is still a long way to go to fully understand this complex issue.” 

The report is exceedingly timely, following notable scientific advances in human developmental biology presented at conferences and in leading scientific journals in recent months. As well as generating excitement in scientific fields and with the public, announcement of these breakthroughs also prompted some concerns and criticisms, with the view that these findings raised significant ethical issues. The dialogue provides insight into public considerations following deliberation on early human embryo research. The hope is that it will act as a foundational reference point that others in the sectors can build upon, such as in any future review of the law on embryo research.

Professor Robin Lovell-Badge, co-chair of the HDBI Oversight group, senior group leader and head of the Laboratory of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute, said: “We have learnt a lot about human development before 14 days, but there are areas of investigation that could change how we understand development, and associated diseases, that lie beyond our current window of knowledge. Despite low awareness of current laws, members of the public quickly recognised many of the critical issues researchers are keenly aware of when it comes to growing embryos beyond the current limit. This dialogue also reinforced the fact that the public are in support of research that will yield better health outcomes, and in this case, increase the success of IVF procedures.

Other countries will be looking to the UK to see how we deal with the 14-day rule; we are not there yet with any mandate to make a change, but this does give a strong pointer. The next step will be to delve deeper into some of the topics raised through this dialogue as they apply to specific areas of research, as well as feeding into policy changes.”

The 14-day rule and the regulation of stem cell-based models

When considering the regulation of research involving human embryos, the dialogue explored participant’s views on the 14-day rule. Introduced in 1990, the 14-day rule is a limit enforced by statute in the UK. It applies to early human embryos that are donated by consent to research and embryos that are created for research from donated sperm and eggs. It limits the amount of time early human embryos can be developed in a laboratory for scientific study to 14 days after fertilisation. Due to technical advances, it is now possible to grow embryos in the lab past 14 days, but researchers are not allowed to by the law. If the law changed, it would open up this ‘black box’ of development with researchers able to investigate this crucial time in development from 14-28 days after fertilisation.

Professor Bobbie Farsides, co-chair of the HDBI Oversight group and Professor of Clinical and Biomedical Ethics at the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, said: “It has been a fascinating experience to support HDBI in the undertaking of this exercise.  I commend the participants for the care and mutual respect they have shown throughout. Their engagement and commitment to a subject few of them had previously considered allowed for a wide range of views to be expressed and considered. I hope the scientists involved will be encouraged by the high level of interest in their work, and will want to keep the public conversation going around these important subjects.”

The dialogue included participant discussion on what a change to the 14-day rule might look like, and identified points that should be considered, such as defining what the benefits of extending the rule would be and potential mis-alignment with human embryo research regulations in other countries.

Participants acknowledged the astonishing possibilities of stem cell-based embryo models. The majority of participants would like to see these models further regulated. Work in establishing potential governance mechanisms is already underway. In recognition of the need for additional guidance and regulation in this area, the Cambridge Reproduction initiative launched a project in March 2023 to develop a governance framework for research using stem cell-based embryo models and to promote responsible, transparent and accountable research.

Future steps

A key outcome from the public dialogue is the identification of areas for further exploration, with participants proposing how future national conversations might be shaped. It is hoped that the project acts as a reference base for both widening engagement with the subject and also prompting deeper exploration of areas of concern.

Dr Michael Norman, HDBI Public Dialogue coordinator and Public Engagement Manager at the Babraham Institute, said: “This dialogue shows that people want the public to work closely with scientists and the government to shape both future embryo research legislation and scientific research direction. It is crucial that others in the sector build on these high quality, two-way engagement methodologies that allow for a genuine exchange of views and information to ensure that the public’s desires and concerns are listened to and respected. Transparency and openness around science is vital for public trust and through this we, as a society, can shape UK research in way that enriches the outcomes for all.”

Public Participant (Broad public group, south) said: “I do think that an extension of this public dialogue, and educating a wider society has a benefit in itself. This is really complex and sensitive and the wider you talk about it before decisions are made, the better.”


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UC Riverside physicist awarded National Medal of Science

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Physicist Barry C. Barish, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside, was awarded the National Medal…

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RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Physicist Barry C. Barish, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside, was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Joe Biden at a ceremony held at the White House today. Established in 1959 by the U.S. Congress, the National Medal of Science is the highest recognition the nation can bestow on scientists and engineers.

Credit: Stan Lim, UC Riverside.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Physicist Barry C. Barish, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside, was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Joe Biden at a ceremony held at the White House today. Established in 1959 by the U.S. Congress, the National Medal of Science is the highest recognition the nation can bestow on scientists and engineers.

The President’s National Medal of Science is given to individuals “deserving of special recognition by reason of their outstanding contributions in biology, computer sciences, education sciences, engineering, geosciences, mathematical and physical sciences, and social, behavioral, and economic sciences, in service to the Nation.” It is administered by National Science Foundation.

Barish was recognized for “exemplary service to science, including groundbreaking research on sub-atomic particles. His leadership of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory led to the first detection of gravitational waves from merging black holes, confirming a key part of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. He has broadened our understanding of the universe and our Nation’s sense of wonder and discovery.”

“UCR congratulates Prof. Barish on receiving the National Medal of Science,” said UCR Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox. “The distinguished names of previous winners make this recognition very exceptional. Prof. Barish is a strong inspiration for our students, researchers, and faculty. UCR continues to benefit from his extraordinary achievements.”

Barish won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of gravitational waves. He joined the UCR faculty in 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1957 and his doctorate in experimental particle physics in 1962, both from from UC Berkeley. He joined Caltech as a postdoc in 1963, became a professor in 1966, and was appointed Linde Professor of Physics in 1991. He led the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, effort from its inception through the final design stages, and in subsequent discoveries. In 1997, he created the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which enables more than 1,000 collaborators worldwide to participate in LIGO.

Barish has served on many committees, including co-chairing the subpanel of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel that developed a long-range plan for U.S. high-energy physics in 2001. He chaired the Commission of Particles and Fields and the U.S. Liaison Committee to the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.

He is the recipient of the Fudan-Zhongzhi Science Award (China), Princess of Asturias Prize for Science and Technology (Spain), Giuseppe and Vanna Cocconi Prize from the European Physical Society, the Enrico Fermi Prize from the Italian Physical Society, and the Klopsteg Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, which awarded him the Henry Draper Medal. From 2003 to 2010, he served as a presidential appointee to the National Science Board.

He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society, where he also served as president. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Bologna, University of Florida, University of Glasgow, and Universitat de València in Spain. He has been inducted as honorary academician into the Royal Academy of European Doctors, based in Spain. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in 2019. Last year, he won the Copernicus Prize, bestowed by the government of Poland. Earlier this year, he was elected a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona. 

The University of California, Riverside is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California’s diverse culture, UCR’s enrollment is more than 26,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual impact of more than $2.7 billion on the U.S. economy. To learn more, visit www.ucr.edu.


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