BANKING: Loosen the Bonds?

On Christmas Eve in 1947, the U.S. Treasury gave a present to U.S. bankers: it would continue to support the price of long-term Government bonds above par by having the Federal Reserve banks buy bonds back at the "pegged" price if there were no other buyers. With this arrangement, the Government hoped to make it easier to sell "Treasuries." Furthermore, this deal would keep down interest rates, in line with its "cheap money" policy on long-term bonds, and it would stabilize the bond market. For a while the plan worked —but only for a while.

Last week, in spite of...

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