The nation's money supply shot up $9.8 billion to a level of $450.2 billion in the week ended Jan. 6, the largest one-week jump in history, the Federal Reserve reported yesterday.
Financial analysts had been expecting a large increase, but one on the order of $5 billion. As a result, the big number helped drive interest rates up and bond prices down.
Rates on both short and long-term government securities rose after the announcement, with the value of one closely watched bond falling $10 almost immediately.
Federal Reserve officials noted that the previous record increase in the weekly figure for M-1, which includes currency in circulation and checking deposits at financial institutions, occurred in the same week one year ago when it rose $9.2 billion. The occurrence of such large gains in identical weeks a year apart suggests at least part of the change may be because of a faulty seasonal adjustment.
Nevertheless, the market reaction was decidedly negative. "This is very damaging news for both the bond and stock markets," David M. Jones of Aubrey G. Lanston & Co. said. "The Fed will be attempting to lean against this unexpectedly large jump and that will mean more pressure on bank reserve positions and higher money market interest rates."
Marc Goloven, an economist at Manufacturers Hanover Bank, said the Fed "is now faced with money supply considerations which would call for it to tighten, but economic weakness would suggest that easing is indeed in order."
At the Bank of New York, Vice President Nicholas J. Marrone said, "There clearly is some problem with the Fed's seasonal adjustment factors," but he added, "Retail investors who have been holding back will be even more cautious now."
Top Federal Reserve officials have been puzzling for weeks over the unexpected increases in the money supply during a period when the economy is moving ever deeper into recession. Normally rising economic activity is associated with an expanding money supply as individuals and businesses need more funds to finance a growing volume of transactions.
On the other hand, the officials have made it clear they intend to keep growth of the money supply under tight control even if it means allowing interest rates to keep rising. In the latest four weeks, the average level of M-1 showed an increase at a 10.1 percent annual rate over the level 13 weeks earlier, well above the Fed's intended growth rate for the period.
For most of 1981, however, growth of M-1 was substantially below its target range. Earlier in the year Treasury Secretary Donald T. Regan complained that money growth was too slow. With the increase in recent weeks, Regan switched his criticism and this week said money was expanding too rapidly.