Refinancing a tool or vestige of a central bank
14 / April / 20 Visitors: 22 ★★★★★
The current feature of the consideration of instruments used by the central bank in its regulatory activities is that in the vast majority of cases, attention is not paid to the origins of these instruments, to the organic nature of their use in the modern monetary system. Meanwhile, such organizing is essential not only for the activities of the Central Bank itself, but also for the functioning of the entire national banking system and the market as a whole. One of the most important instruments used by the Central Bank in its regulatory activities is the refinancing rate - the key rate at which the Central Bank lends to commercial banks. The value of the refinancing rate is important not only for all banks, but also for most participants in market relations. Therefore, it is relevant to consider the origin of this instrument and determine its compliance with the essence of money in the modern monetary system.
The emergence of this tool was due to the emergence of the central bank institution, the formation of a two-tier nature of the national banking system. In many economically developed countries, the Central Bank was formed as a subsidiary of commercial banks. The functioning of these banks preceded the emergence of a central bank. So, in particular, it was in the USA. Before the emergence of the Central Bank, most large commercial banks issued their own banknotes, indicating a certain number of monetary units. Accordingly, banknotes of different banks differed from each other in appearance; but at the same time in each country they were united in respect of the scale of the national currency.
The scale of a national currency is the amount of gold that is represented by one currency. And commercial banks competing among themselves at every opportunity did not get tired of emphasizing that the banknotes issued by them are an unconditional obligation in terms of their conversion to gold based on the country's national currency and the number of units indicated on their banknotes. In the vast majority of cases, the scale of the monetary unit was inherited from the time of the existence of the gold coin system. At that time, the sovereign state maintained in all coins produced the initially established ratio between the number of monetary units indicated on these coins and the amount of gold contained in them. If this ratio in any coin was violated, then it was considered falsified. Such a meticulous attitude to maintaining the scale of the monetary unit has existed for many centuries. The ordinary participants in market relations were jealously watching for the maintenance of the invariability of the scale of the monetary unit. And so the sovereign state in fact did not have the opportunity to violate this scale, to produce counterfeit coins.
It became different in the conditions of the gold standard monetary system. Within its framework, ordinary participants in market relations no longer had the opportunity to exercise control over maintaining the unchanged scale of the monetary unit. Monetary gold reserves were kept in the vaults of commercial banks, which, as was noted, were not tired of assuring that the banknotes issued by them were an unconditional obligation to convert them to an appropriate amount of gold.
However, the owners of commercial banks pretty soon realized that their fulfillment of their obligations to banknote holders was not only quite a burdensome business for them, but also practically impossible. The capitalist system of relations gave room for the development of entrepreneurial activity, which led to a fairly rapid economic growth, the creation of national gross income. This, in turn, necessitated an increase in the number of monetary units indicated on banknotes produced by commercial banks. However, commercial banks could increase this number only if they increased the amount of monetary gold in their vaults. Accordingly, the dilemma has arisen for banks in such conditions: what should the emission volume mainly be oriented to?
If there is an adequate increase in gold reserves, then the market will have a problem with the practical organization of money circulation, i.e., in fact, a lack of funds for the smooth implementation of market circulation. And if the increase in the material content of the market, the growth of national gross income, then the problem will arise for them in relation to the actual maintenance of the unchanged scale of the monetary unit. Reflection on this dilemma led commercial banks to make a rather curious decision - to transfer the issuing function to the body they created as their subsidiary. Such a body was the central bank.
Banks without particular regret transferred the reserves of monetary gold that they had and gave it, in addition to the emission function, a number of others related to the functioning of the country's monetary system. Replenishing gold reserves, the central bank had to produce banknotes of a single standard for the entire market and issue them on a credit basis, i.e. through refinancing to commercial banks at their own rate. Thus arose the instrument under review of the central bank.