The Federal Reserve Board announced yesterday it is lifting the remainder of the special credit controls which were imposed on March 14 to slow down consumer and business borrowing and help curb inflation.
The move was expected, because credit demand and money growth have slowed dramatically in recent weeks. On May 22 the Fed began phasing out the special measures.
The Fed said yesterday "recent evidence indicates that the need for those extraordinary measures has ended. For the year to date, credit expansion, particularly at banks, is clearly running at a moderate pace." The Fed went on to emphasize in its statement that "its general goals of achieving restrained growth in money and credit aggregates are unchanged."
Specifically, the Fed is taking the following measures:
Ending the remaining 7 1/2 percent special deposit requirement on increases in some kinds of consumer credit, effective for credit extended in June and thereafter.
Abolishing the remaining 7 1/2 percent special deposit requirement on increases in covered assets of money market mutual funds.
Eliminating the remaining 5 percent marginal reserve requirement on managed liabilities of large banks and branches and agencies of foreign banks. This applies to such liabilities beginning July 10. From the same date, the Fed has eliminated the 2 percent supplementary reserve requirement for large deposits with member banks, which had been in force since November 1978.
Phasing out the special restraint program under which banks were asked to restrict voluntarily the increase in their total loans and investment to between 6 percent and 9 percent this year and to observe qualitative guidelines to restrict lending for speculative purposes and to channel money for productive use.
The onset of recession has meant that the special credit restraints were no longer biting. The Fed commented yesterday that "available data for the first five months of this year indicate that bank loans to domestic borrowers have increased at round a 3 percent annual rate."
On the question of qualitative guidelines for bank lending, it added "the Board feels that normal competitive and market incentives can again be relied on to assure the flow of credit consistent with normal banking standards."
But the Fed indicated it may take measures in the future to monitor the volume of credit for essentially speculative purposes.
President Carter said in a statement issued yesterday by the White House that "the action of the Federal Reserve to remove the selective constraints on consumer credit has been made possible precisely because those controls have accomplished their purpose."
Carter warned, however, that the removal of the controlls should not be taken as a signal for the resumption of a profligate use of credit by consumers or business."
Rep. Henry S.Reuss (D-Wis.), chairman of the House Banking Committee, commented yesterday that "the Federal Reserve is clearly right in removing the remaining controls over consumer credit. With all the talk of a tax cut to increase consumer spending it would be silly for government to continue to suppress consumer spending with credit controls." But he criticized the decision to get rid of banking guidelines.
Rep. Frank Annunzio (D-Ill.), chairman of the House consumer affairs subcommittee, said, "I hope the removal of credit controls is not taken as a signal to open the flood-gates again."
Bob Sinche, of market analysts Bear, Stearns and Co., said yesterday he doubted whether the ending of the special restraints would have any effect on interest rates or money growth.
"This restraints really had not been affecting the economy that much" Sinche said. He said he is not surprised by the Fed's announcement because "in general, the Fed has a distaste for credit controls and allocation. Therefore, as soon as it was felt reasonable to dismantle the controls, the Fed did it."
Views differ over the effectiveness of the controls while they were in place and of the likelihood that their complete removal will encourage a revival of consumer spending.
Sinche said their initial impact was "like a starter in a race shooting a gun, saying the recession has started."
Susan Flack, of the American Retail Association, agreed that the biggest impact of credit controls was a pspychological one. "It made people unsure of their abililty to handle their own money," she said.
Both Flack and Sinche said the recession, high unemployment and the uncertain outlook for real incomes were the main influences holding back spending now.
"Sales have been so bad, it's hard to believe it was all controls," Flack remarked yesterday.
The Securities and Exchange Commission division of investment management said yesterday it was studying the implications of the Fed's move for money market funds and probably would recommend disclosure to investors matters resulting from the termination of credit controls.