In finance and economics, a monetary authority is the entity which controls the money supply of a given currency, often with the objective of controlling inflation or interest rates. With its monetary tools, a monetary authority is able to effectively influence the development of the short-term interest rates for that currency, but can also influence other parameters which control the cost and availability of money.
Generally, a monetary authority is a central bank with a certain degree of independence from the government(s) and its political targets and decisions. But depending on the political set-up, governments can have as much as a de facto control over monetary policy if they are allowed to influence or control their central bank.
Commonly, there is one monetary authority for one country with its currency. However, there are also other arrangements in place, such as in the case of the eurozone where the so-called Eurosystem, consisting of the European Central Bank and the 19 European Union member states that have adopted the euro as their sole official currency, is the monetary authority covering the eurozone.
There are other arrangements, for example democratic governance of monetary policy, a currency board which restricts currency issuance to the amount of another currency, and free banking where a broad range of entities (such as banks) can issue notes or coin.
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