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FCS 3450
Fall 2015
Unit 5
Microeconomics and
What Pushes the Economic Roller Coaster?
Although there is no definite answer to this question, there are
two partial answers:
1. Supply shock
2. Federal Reserve fine-tuning
Supply Shocks
• There are two types of supply shocks
1. Bad supply shocks
• Labor strikes, droughts, embargoes
• These bad supply shocks can cause a significant increase in the average price
level, a reduction in economic activity, and an increase in unemployment.
2. Good supply shocks
• Mild weather, and unusually good growing season, and the invention of new
technologies which lower the cost of production.
• These good supply shocks can reduce the average price level, increase economic
activity, and increase income.
• Shocks can’t usually be used to forecast economic ups and downs because they
are shocks.
The Fed’s “Fine-Tuning”
The Fed does “fine-tuning” to counteract bad supply shocks.
How does the Fed do fine-tuning?
• Increasing or decreasing money supply
When the Fed wants to stimulate the economy, the Fed increases money
supply-loose monetary policy.
When the Fed wants to slow down the economy, the Fed decreases money
supply – tight monetary policy.
How does the loose monetary policy work?
Short run: lower interest rate, lower unemployment, increased economic activity
and increased income.
Long run: higher inflation rate—unemployment rate and economic activity return
to original levels.
How does the tight monetary policy work?
Short run: higher interest rate, higher unemployment rate, decreased economic
activity and decreased income.
Long run: lower inflation rate –unemployment rate and economic activity return
to original levels.
The Long and Short of Interest Rates: What Does
the Spread Tell You?
All interest rates are not the same. There are interest rates for
borrowing, interest rates for savings. Within borrowing and
saving, the rates are different as well.
In particular, macroeconomists are interested in long-term vs
short-term interest rates.
Long Term vs. Short-Term Interest Rates
• Long term interest rates are interest rates paid on long-term financial
investments, like 30-year Treasury bonds.
• Short-term interest rates are interest rates paid on short-term financial
investments, lie 3-month CDs and 3-month Treasury bonds.
• Typically long-term rates are higher due to risk.
The Interest Rate Spread
The interest rate spread =
Long-term interest rate – short-term interest rate
The interest rate spread used by the Conference Board =
The yield on the 10-year U.S Treasury bond – Fed funds rate (the rate banks
charge on another)
Implication of the Spread
Interest rate spread can be used for forecasting future interest rate trends.
Large positive spread (Long-term rates are quite a bit higher than short-term rates) means
that future interest rates should be higher.
Negative spread (Short-term rates are higher than long-term rates) means that future
interest rates should be lower.
Often it is an indicator of an economic downturn.