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Instruments of Monetary Policy - Quantitative & Qualitative Tools

The instrument of monetary policy are tools or devise which are used by the monetary authority in order to attain some predetermined objectives. There are two types of instruments of the monetary policy as shown below.

Instruments of Monetary Policy

square (A) Quantitative Instruments or General Tools ↓

The Quantitative Instruments are also known as the General Tools of monetary policy. These tools are related to the Quantity or Volume of the money. The Quantitative Tools of credit control are also called as General Tools for credit control. They are designed to regulate or control the total volume of bank credit in the economy. These tools are indirect in nature and are employed for influencing the quantity of credit in the country. The general tool of credit control comprises of following instruments.

square 1. Bank Rate Policy (BRP)

The Bank Rate Policy (BRP) is a very important technique used in the monetary policy for influencing the volume or the quantity of the credit in a country. The bank rate refers to rate at which the central bank (i.e RBI) rediscounts bills and prepares of commercial banks or provides advance to commercial banks against approved securities. It is "the standard rate at which the bank is prepared to buy or rediscount bills of exchange or other commercial paper eligible for purchase under the RBI Act". The Bank Rate affects the actual availability and the cost of the credit. Any change in the bank rate necessarily brings out a resultant change in the cost of credit available to commercial banks. If the RBI increases the bank rate than it reduce the volume of commercial banks borrowing from the RBI. It deters banks from further credit expansion as it becomes a more costly affair. Even with increased bank rate the actual interest rates for a short term lending go up checking the credit expansion. On the other hand, if the RBI reduces the bank rate, borrowing for commercial banks will be easy and cheaper. This will boost the credit creation. Thus any change in the bank rate is normally associated with the resulting changes in the lending rate and in the market rate of interest. However, the efficiency of the bank rate as a tool of monetary policy depends on existing banking network, interest elasticity of investment demand, size and strength of the money market, international flow of funds, etc.

square 2. Open Market Operation (OMO)

The open market operation refers to the purchase and/or sale of short term and long term securities by the RBI in the open market. This is very effective and popular instrument of the monetary policy. The OMO is used to wipe out shortage of money in the money market, to influence the term and structure of the interest rate and to stabilize the market for government securities, etc. It is important to understand the working of the OMO. If the RBI sells securities in an open market, commercial banks and private individuals buy it. This reduces the existing money supply as money gets transferred from commercial banks to the RBI. Contrary to this when the RBI buys the securities from commercial banks in the open market, commercial banks sell it and get back the money they had invested in them. Obviously the stock of money in the economy increases. This way when the RBI enters in the OMO transactions, the actual stock of money gets changed. Normally during the inflation period in order to reduce the purchasing power, the RBI sells securities and during the recession or depression phase she buys securities and makes more money available in the economy through the banking system. Thus under OMO there is continuous buying and selling of securities taking place leading to changes in the availability of credit in an economy.

However there are certain limitations that affect OMO viz; underdeveloped securities market, excess reserves with commercial banks, indebtedness of commercial banks, etc.

square 3. Variation in the Reserve Ratios (VRR)

The Commercial Banks have to keep a certain proportion of their total assets in the form of Cash Reserves. Some part of these cash reserves are their total assets in the form of cash. Apart of these cash reserves are also to be kept with the RBI for the purpose of maintaining liquidity and controlling credit in an economy. These reserve ratios are named as Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) and a Statutory Liquidity Ratio (SLR). The CRR refers to some percentage of commercial bank's net demand and time liabilities which commercial banks have to maintain with the central bank and SLR refers to some percent of reserves to be maintained in the form of gold or foreign securities. In India the CRR by law remains in between 3-15 percent while the SLR remains in between 25-40 percent of bank reserves. Any change in the VRR (i.e. CRR + SLR) brings out a change in commercial banks reserves positions. Thus by varying VRR commercial banks lending capacity can be affected. Changes in the VRR helps in bringing changes in the cash reserves of commercial banks and thus it can affect the banks credit creation multiplier. RBI increases VRR during the inflation to reduce the purchasing power and credit creation. But during the recession or depression it lowers the VRR making more cash reserves available for credit expansion.

square (B) Qualitative Instruments or Selective Tools ↓

The Qualitative Instruments are also known as the Selective Tools of monetary policy. These tools are not directed towards the quality of credit or the use of the credit. They are used for discriminating between different uses of credit. It can be discrimination favoring export over import or essential over non-essential credit supply. This method can have influence over the lender and borrower of the credit. The Selective Tools of credit control comprises of following instruments.

square 1. Fixing Margin Requirements

The margin refers to the "proportion of the loan amount which is not financed by the bank". Or in other words, it is that part of a loan which a borrower has to raise in order to get finance for his purpose. A change in a margin implies a change in the loan size. This method is used to encourage credit supply for the needy sector and discourage it for other non-necessary sectors. This can be done by increasing margin for the non-necessary sectors and by reducing it for other needy sectors. Example:- If the RBI feels that more credit supply should be allocated to agriculture sector, then it will reduce the margin and even 85-90 percent loan can be given.

square 2. Consumer Credit Regulation

Under this method, consumer credit supply is regulated through hire-purchase and installment sale of consumer goods. Under this method the down payment, installment amount, loan duration, etc is fixed in advance. This can help in checking the credit use and then inflation in a country.

square 3. Publicity

This is yet another method of selective credit control. Through it Central Bank (RBI) publishes various reports stating what is good and what is bad in the system. This published information can help commercial banks to direct credit supply in the desired sectors. Through its weekly and monthly bulletins, the information is made public and banks can use it for attaining goals of monetary policy.

square 4. Credit Rationing

Central Bank fixes credit amount to be granted. Credit is rationed by limiting the amount available for each commercial bank. This method controls even bill rediscounting. For certain purpose, upper limit of credit can be fixed and banks are told to stick to this limit. This can help in lowering banks credit expoursure to unwanted sectors.

square 5. Moral Suasion

It implies to pressure exerted by the RBI on the indian banking system without any strict action for compliance of the rules. It is a suggestion to banks. It helps in restraining credit during inflationary periods. Commercial banks are informed about the expectations of the central bank through a monetary policy. Under moral suasion central banks can issue directives, guidelines and suggestions for commercial banks regarding reducing credit supply for speculative purposes.

square 6. Control Through Directives

Under this method the central bank issue frequent directives to commercial banks. These directives guide commercial banks in framing their lending policy. Through a directive the central bank can influence credit structures, supply of credit to certain limit for a specific purpose. The RBI issues directives to commercial banks for not lending loans to speculative sector such as securities, etc beyond a certain limit.

square 7. Direct Action

Under this method the RBI can impose an action against a bank. If certain banks are not adhering to the RBI's directives, the RBI may refuse to rediscount their bills and securities. Secondly, RBI may refuse credit supply to those banks whose borrowings are in excess to their capital. Central bank can penalize a bank by changing some rates. At last it can even put a ban on a particular bank if it dose not follow its directives and work against the objectives of the monetary policy.

These are various selective instruments of the monetary policy. However the success of these tools is limited by the availability of alternative sources of credit in economy, working of the Non-Banking Financial Institutions (NBFIs), profit motive of commercial banks and undemocratic nature off these tools. But a right mix of both the general and selective tools of monetary policy can give the desired results.


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