[A:] Thanks for your great question. Students first learning economics often have trouble understanding what contractionary monetary policy and expansionary monetary policy are and why they have the effects they do.
Generally speaking contractionary monetary policies and expansionary monetary policies involve changing the level of the money supply in a country. Expansionary monetary policy is simply a policy which expands (increases) the supply of money, whereas contractionary monetary policy contracts (decreases) the supply of a country's currency.
Expansionary Monetary PolicyIn the United States, when the Federal Open Market Committee wishes to increase the money supply, it can do a combination of three things:
- Purchase securities on the open market, known as Open Market Operations
- Lower the Federal Discount Rate
- Lower Reserve Requirements
Increases in American bond prices will have an effect on the exchange market. Rising American bond prices will cause investors to sell those bonds in exchange for other bonds, such as Canadian ones. So an investor will sell his American bond, exchange his American dollars for Canadian dollars, and buy a Canadian bond. This causes the supply of American dollars on foreign exchange markets to increase and the supply of Canadian dollars on foreign exchange markets to decrease. As shown in my Beginner's Guide to Exchange Rates this causes the U.S. Dollar to become less valuable relative to the Canadian Dollar. The lower exchange rate makes American produced goods cheaper in Canada and Canadian produced goods more expensive in America, so exports will increase and imports will decrease causing the balance of trade to increase.
When interest rates are lower, the cost of financing capital projects is less. So all else being equal, lower interest rates lead to higher rates of investment.
What We've Learned About Expansionary Monetary Policy:
- Expansionary monetary policy causes an increase in bond prices and a reduction in interest rates.
- Lower interest rates lead to higher levels of capital investment.
- The lower interest rates make domestic bonds less attractive, so the demand for domestic bonds falls and the demand for foreign bonds rises.
- The demand for domestic currency falls and the demand for foreign currency rises, causing a decrease in the exchange rate. (The value of the domestic currency is now lower relative to foreign currencies)
- A lower exchange rate causes exports to increase, imports to decrease and the balance of trade to increase.