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Open Market Operations

Last updated date: 18th May 2024
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Open Market Operation: An Introduction

Open market operations (OMO) are actions a central bank takes to control the money supply, such as open market purchases and sales of short-term Treasury securities and other securities. The Federal Reserve (Fed) uses open market operations to influence interest rates in the United States, specifically the federal funds rate used for interbank lending. Buying securities puts money into the economy, which lowers interest rates and makes loans more available.

Open Market Operations

Open Market Operations

What are Open Market Operations?

The selling and buying of Treasury Bills and other Government Securities by a country's Central Bank in order to control the amount of money in the economy are known as open market operations.

Open market operations are a part of central banks' most important monetary control methods. When the central bank wants to reduce the market's money supply, it sells securities on the open market. The intention is to raise interest rates. This approach is also known as contractionary monetary policy.

Similarly, when the central bank wants to increase the amount of money on the market, it will buy securities. This action is being taken to lower interest rates and promote the nation's economic growth. This strategy is known as expansionary monetary policy.

Types of Open Market Operations

Types of Open Market Operations

Types of Open Market Operations

The two types of open market activities are permanent open market operations and transient open market operations.

  1. Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO): These involve the central bank of any country selling and buying securities or treasuries on the open market in order to change the money supply. It is a means of influencing the economy.

  2. Temporary Open Market Operations: These are used to add or subtract reserves from or into the banking system on a short-term basis. Repurchase agreements, also known as Repos or reverse repurchase agreements, or RRPs, are used for short-term open market transactions.

Example: RBI’s Role in Open Market Operation

The Reserve Bank of India conducted open market operations for the first time in 2019. In India, the RBI regulates OMOs by buying and selling G-Secs, government securities, in and out of the market. The main goal is to change the rupee's market liquidity conditions in the long term. When the RBI determines that there is more than adequate liquidity in the market, it sells securities and reduces rupee liquidity. On the other hand, the Reserve Bank of India purchases from the open market when it perceives a liquidity constraint.

Case Study

Explain with an example of a federal bank engaging in outright open market operations.

Understanding how the Federal Reserve of the United States sets monetary policy is critical to comprehending open market operations in India. The United States is the best open market operations example for us to understand the many nuances of free market activities. In order to preserve the stability of the US economy and avoid the negative effects of inflation or deflation, the Federal Reserve Board establishes a goal known as the federal funds rate. Federal funds rates are the interest rates that banks charge one another for overnight loans. Due to this consistent flow of enormous sums of money, banks can ensure that their cash reserves are sufficient to meet client demands.

In addition to serving as a benchmark for other interest rates, the federal funds rate determines the direction of a variety of interest rates, including those on credit cards, mortgages, and savings accounts.


We could conclude that open market processes are critical components of an economy. They are required to maintain a consistent and controlled flow of funds into the market. The Federal Reserve uses open market operations to raise or lower interest rates by buying and selling securities in the open market. They are one of the tools available of the Federal Reserve for accelerating or decelerating the nation's economic activity. Through open market operations, the Federal Reserve injects or removes money into the country's money supply.

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FAQs on Open Market Operations

1. What are the types of open market operations?

There are two types of open market operations – permanent open market operations and temporary open market operations.

  • Permanent Open Market Operations (POMO) – It entails the apex bank of any country consistently using the open market to sell and purchase securities or treasuries to adjust the money supply. It is used as a tool to influence the economy.

  • Temporary Open Market Operations – They are used to add or drain reserves to or from the banking system on a short-term basis. Temporary open market operations are transitory in nature, and they are operated through repurchase agreements or Repos or reverse repurchase agreements or RRPs.

2. Can you highlight the various advantages of open market operations?

There are various advantages of open market operations or OMOs. Firstly, OMOs are flexible in terms of the amounts bought and sold. They are easily reversible, and their impact on the bank reserves is also trickling and slow. Another considerable merit of open market operations is that they are entirely controlled by one banking institution – the apex bank.

3.  What are the limitations of open market operations?

Despite many advantages, we can't ignore the limitations of open market operations. The first disadvantage of OMOs is that their process mandates the existence of a well-developed securities market. Secondly, there may be contradictions between the bank rate and open market operations. Thirdly, the preparedness of the apex or central bank is paramount in determining the success of open market operations. Furthermore, their execution is complex in real life. It is noteworthy that OMOs are highly successful in preventing booms but not so much in preventing slumps in the economy. 

4. Explain the working of Open Market Operations in detail.

The central bank engages in open market operations in collaboration with commercial banks. The general public is not involved in such operations. Government bonds are primarily purchased by commercial banks, financial institutions, wealthy individuals, and large corporations. All of these organisations have bank accounts, and when one of them purchases bonds, the funds are transferred to the central bank. Thus, it is possible to argue that open market operations have an impact on the bank's reserves and deposits, as well as its ability to extend credit. When a central bank wants to limit the amount of money available to the general public, it will enlist the help of commercial banks to sell government bonds and securities.

5. What are the features of Open Market Operations?

Open market operations, or OMOs, are the most basic and practical monetary control tools used by central banks in many countries. Simply put, the central bank sells assets on the open market in OMOs to limit the market's money supply. Interest rates rise as a result.

OMOs are also known as Contractionary Monetary Policy. Similarly, when the central bank wants to increase the quantity of money in circulation, the assets are purchased from the open market. The action is taken to lower or reduce interest rates and advance the nation's economy. Expansionary Monetary Policy is another term for the act of purchasing assets on the open market.

6. Which organisation usually conducts open market operations?

The central bank conducts open market operations by selling and purchasing government securities. To increase the money supply, the central bank either buys back securities or sells securities to commercial banks.

The primary goal of open market activities is to exert control over the amount of money in an economy. It has an impact on credit availability and demand. Central banks engage in open market activities to control the money supply in the economy. The Reserve Bank of India, taking as an open market operations example, conducts open market operations in India.