To understand why the Federal Reserve acted as it did at key points in its history, Meltzer draws on meeting minutes, correspondence, and other internal documents (many made public only during the 1970s) to trace the reasoning behind its policy decisions. He explains, for instance, why the Federal Reserve remained passive throughout most of the economic decline that led to the Great Depression, and how the Board's actions helped to produce the deep recession of 1937 and 1938. He also highlights the impact on the institution of individuals such as Benjamin Strong, governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the 1920s, who played a key role in the adoption of a more active monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Meltzer also examines the influence the Federal Reserve has had on international affairs, from attempts to build a new international financial system in the 1920s to the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 that established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the failure of the London Economic Conference of 1933.
Written by one of the world's leading economists, this magisterial biography of the Federal Reserve and the people who helped shape it will interest economists, central bankers, historians, political scientists, policymakers, and anyone seeking a deep understanding of the institution that controls America's purse strings.
"It was 'an unprecedented orgy of extravagance, a mania for speculation, overextended business in nearly all lines and in every section of the country.' An Alan Greenspan rumination about the irrational exuberance of the late 1990s? Try the 1920 annual report of the board of governors of the Federal Reserve. . . . To understand why the Fed acted as it did—at these critical moments and many others—would require years of study, poring over letters, the minutes of meetings and internal Fed documents. Such a task would naturally deter most scholars of economic history but not, thank goodness, Allan Meltzer."—Wall Street Journal
"A seminal work that anyone interested in the inner workings of the U. S. central bank should read. A work that scholars will mine for years to come."—John M. Berry, Washington Post
"An exceptionally clear story about why, as the ideas that actually informed policy evolved, things sometimes went well and sometimes went badly. . . . One can only hope that we do not have to wait too long for the second installment."—David Laidler, Journal of Economic Literature
"A thorough narrative history of a high order. Meltzer's analysis is persuasive and acute. His work will stand for a generation as the benchmark history of the world's most powerful economic institution. It is an impressive, even awe-inspiring achievement."—Sir Howard Davies, Times Higher Education Supplement
Arranged alphabetically, over 250 entries define and describe topics related to the Fed and United States monetary policy, including Alan Greenspan, Black Monday of 1929, Euro, Federal Reserve Act of 1913, Prime rate, and Treasury financing. Numerous appendices supplement the A-to- Z entries, providing insight into the secretive and powerful Federal Reserve Bank, the keepers of America's monetary system.
The issues discussed are long standing. Some have antecedents in the distant past, others are more recent. The book opens with a brief discussion of what money is, including the monetarist, Austrian, and Keynesian views, and of differing views on the role of supply and demand. It then considers the early and later years of central banking in the U.S. and abroad, moving on to the role of bureaucracy and monetary policy. The volume then considers contemporary commercial banking, the changing nature of banking today, and the Euro and the dollar. Written in nontechnical language, the book will be useful to the specialist and interested layman alike.
Grossman reveals that many of the same components underlying the history of banking evolution are at work today. The recent subprime mortgage crisis had its origins, like many earlier banking crises, in a boom-bust economic cycle. Grossman finds that important historical elements are also at play in modern bailouts, merger movements, and regulatory reforms.
Unsettled Account is a fascinating and informative must-read for anyone who wants to understand how the modern commercial banking system came to be, where it is headed, and how its development will affect global economic growth.
This history of the Federal Reserve begins by giving an overview of American banking practices before the Federal Reserve's formation. The events leading to the Reserve's creation, and its early trials and tribulations, are then documented. Subsequent chapters track the Federal Reserve's history: its role during times of financial and military crisis, its relationship to each presidential administration, and the Fed's evolution as its leadership has changed over the years. The history wraps up with the Alan Greenspan era, explaining major changes in the institution's operating procedures since the 1980s. An appendix lists all members of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, from its formation until 2003.
This book is a study of the causes of the Fed’s errors, with lessons for an improved monetary authority, beginning with an examination of the history of central banks, in which it is found that their performance depended on their incentives, as is to be expected of economic agents. An implication of these findings is that the Fed’s failings must be traced to its institutional independence, particularly of the public welfare. Consequently, its policies have been dictated by special interests: financial institutions who desire public support without meaningful regulation, as well as presidents and those portions of Congress desiring growing government financed by inflation.
Monetary stability (which used to be thought the primary purpose of central banks) requires responsibility, meaning punishment for failure, instead of a remote and irresponsible (to the public) agency such as the Fed. It requires either private money motivated by profit or Congress disciplined by the electoral system as before 1913. Change involving the least disturbance to the system suggests the latter.