Should money supply be fluctuating this much?

Actions by policymakers have led to a critical economic measure deviate greatly from historical norms.

Scroll down to begin. 🔻

M2 Money Supply

Sign up here for more data stories.

Scroll down to begin. 🔻

Here's how the chart of M2 money supply normally looks. Between 1959 and 2020, it grew at a steady pace.

But this is what the chart looks like when you include 2020 to the present day. That sharp increase during the pandemic is not normal.

M2 money supply is a measure of how much easily-accessible cash exists in the economy. It is affected by policy decisions by the Government, or the Federal Reserve.

Policy makers increase money supply to combat recessions. But it usually doesn't increase by much.

In February 1976, M2 money supply grew 13.8% year-over-year. Until the pandemic, this was the largest ever increase.

In response to the pandemic, policy makers began expansionary economic policies starting in March 2020. Money supply began rising at an unprecedented rate: by Feb 2021 it was growing over 27% year-over-year.

These changes are linked to the 40-year-highs in inflation we're seeing today.

It is rare for money supply to decrease from one month to the next. In 2010, during the great recession, money supply shrank for a couple of months. But it shrank by such a small amount that it's almost impossible to see on the chart.

Today, money supply is declining at the fastest pace it has ever declined at. This isn't a sharp decline: but any decines in money supply are an anomaly.

The changes are one of the many signs that we are pushing to extremes with monetary policy. The future impact is uncertain.

Data Source: Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (US), M2 [M2SL], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, December 8, 2022.