Money Creation by the Banking System

In this section we shall explore the determinants of money supply. Money supply will change if the value of any of its components such as CU, DD or Time Deposits changes. In what follows we shall, for simplicity, use the most liquid definition of money, viz. M1 = CU + DD, as the measure of money supply in the economy. Various actions of the monetary authority, RBI, and commercial banks are responsible for changes in the values of these items. The preference of the public for holding cash balances vis-´a-vis deposits in banks also affect the money supply. These influences on money supply can be summarised by the following key ratios.

The Currency Deposit Ratio:
The currency deposit ratio (cdr) is the ratio of money held by the public in currency to that they hold in bank deposits. cdr = CU/DD. If a person gets Re 1 she will put Rs 1/(1 + cdr) in her bank account and keep Rs cdr/(1 + cdr) in cash. It reflects people’s preference for liquidity. It is a purely behavioural parameter which depends, among other things, on the seasonal pattern of expenditure. For example, cdr increases during the festive season as people convert deposits to cash balance for meeting extra expenditure during such periods.

The Reserve Deposit Ratio:
Banks hold a part of the money people keep in their bank deposits as reserve money and loan out the rest to various investment projects. Reserve money consists of two things – vault cash in banks and deposits of commercial banks with RBI. Banks use this reserve to meet the demand for cash by account holders. Reserve deposit ratio (rdr) is the proportion of the total deposits commercial banks keep as reserves. Keeping reserves is costly for banks, as, otherwise, they could lend this balance to interest earning investment projects. However, RBI requires commercial banks to keep reserves in order to ensure that banks have a safe cushion of assets to draw on when account holders want to be paid. RBI uses various policy instruments to bring forth a healthy rdr in commercial banks. The first instrument is the Cash Reserve Ratio which specifies the fraction of their deposits that banks must keep with RBI. There is another tool called Statutory Liquidity Ratio which requires the banks to maintain a given fraction of their total demand and time deposits in the form of specified liquid assets. Apart from these ratios RBI uses a certain interest rate called the Bank Rate to control the value of rdr. Commercial banks can borrow money from RBI at the bank rate when they run short of reserves. A high bank rate makes such borrowing from RBI costly and, in effect, encourages the commercial banks to maintain a healthy rdr.

Commercial Banks:

Commercial Banks accept deposits from the public and lend out this money to interest earning investment projects. The rate of interest offered by the bank to deposit holders is called the ‘borrowing rate’ and the rate at which banks lend out their reserves to investors is called the ‘lending rate’. The difference between the two rates, called ‘spread’, is the profit that is appropriated by the banks. Deposits are broadly of two types – demand deposits, payable by the banks on demand from the account holder, e.g. current and savings account deposits, and time deposits, which have a fixed period to maturity, e.g. fixed deposits. Lending by commercial banks consists mainly of cash credit, demand and shortterm loans to private investors and banks’ investments in government securities and other approved bonds. The creditworthiness of a person is judged by her current assets or the collateral (a security pledged for the repayment of a loan) she can offer.

High Powered Money:
The total liability of the monetary authority of the country, RBI, is called the monetary base or high powered money. It consists of currency (notes and coins in circulation with the public and vault cash of commercial banks) and deposits held by the Government of India and commercial banks with RBI. If a member of the public produces a currency note to RBI the latter must pay her value equal to the figure printed on the note. Similarly, the deposits are also refundable by RBI on demand from deposit-holders. These items are claims which the general public, government or banks have on RBI and hence are considered to be the liability of RBI. RBI acquires assets against these liabilities. The process can be understood easily if we consider a simple stylised example. Suppose RBI purchases gold or dollars worth Rs 5. It pays for the gold or foreign exchange by issuing currency to the seller. The currency in circulation in the economy thus goes up by Rs 5, an item that shows up on the liability side of the balance sheet. The value of the acquired assets, also equal to Rs 5, is entered under the appropriate head on the Assets side. Similarly, RBI acquires debt bonds or securities issued by the government and pays the government by issuing currency in return. It issues loans to commercial banks in a similar fashion. We are now ready to explain the mechanism of money creation by the monetary authority, RBI. Suppose RBI wishes to increase the money supply. It will then inject additional high powered money into the economy in the following way. Let us assume that RBI purchases some asset, say, government bonds or gold worth Rs H from the market. It will issue a cheque of Rs H on itself to the seller of the bond. Assume also that the values of cdr and rdr for this economy are 1 and 0.2, respectively. The seller encashes the cheque at her account in Bank A, keeping Rs 2 H in her account and taking Rs 2 H away as cash. Currency held by the public thus goes up by 2 H . Bank A’s liability goes up by Rs 2 H because of this increment in deposits. But its assets also go up by the same amount through the possession of this cheque, which is nothing but a claim of the same amount on RBI. The liability of RBI goes up by Rs H, which is the sum total of the claims of Bank A and its client, the seller, worth Rs 2 H and Rs 2 H , respectively. Thus, by definition, high powered money increases by Rs H. The process does not end here. Bank A will keep Rs 0.2 2H of the extra deposit as reserve and loan out the rest, i.e. Rs (1– 0.2) 2H = Rs 0.8 2 H to another borrower3. The borrower will presumably use this loan on some investment project and spend the money as factor payment. Suppose a worker of that project gets the payment. The worker will then keep Rs 0.8 4H as cash and put Rs 0.8 4H in her account in Bank B. Bank B, in turn, will lend Rs 0.64 4H . Someone who receives that money will keep 0.64 8H in cash and put 0.64 8H in some other Bank C. The process continues ad infinitum.

The increment in total money supply exceeds the amount of high powered money initially injected by RBI into the economy. We define money multiplier as the ratio of the stock of money to the stock of high powered money in an economy, viz. M/H. Clearly, its value is greater than 1. We need not always go through the round effects in order to compute the value of the money multiplier. We did it here just to demonstrate the process of money creation in which the commercial banks have an important role to play. However, there exists a simpler way of deriving the multiplier. By definition, money supply is equal to currency plus deposits
M = CU + DD = (1 + cdr )DD
where, cdr = CU/DD.
Assume, for simplicity, that treasury deposit of the Government with RBI is zero. High powered money then consists of currency held by the public and reserves of the commercial banks, which include vault cash and banks’ deposits with RBI. Thus
H = CU + R = cdr.DD + rdr.DD = (cdr + rdr)DD


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