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.
Reagan centers much of his analysis on the careers of five individuals who served on the NRPB during its ten years of existence: city and regional planner Frederic A. Delano; political scientist Charles E. Merriam; economist Wesley Clair Mitchell; business leader Henry S. Dennison; and philanthropic manager Beardsley Ruml. Drawing on their experiences in Progressive politics, mobilization for World War I, and the reform initiatives of the 1920s, these men steadily expanded the scope of national planning as advisers to the Roosevelt administration. During the Depression they joined in key debates over economic policy and executive branch reorganization, and during World War II they helped with plans for economic mobilization and proposed a vision for postwar America.
Although abolished by Congress in 1943, the NRPB remains a symbol not only of New Deal hopes and ambitions but of an enduring if ambivalent American faith in professional social and economic management.
Under the steely editorship of Geoffrey Wood, this book brings together a stellar line of of contributors - including Charles Goodhart, Harold James, Michael Bordo, Barry Eichengreen, Charles Calomiris, and Anna Schwartz. The book analyzes many of the mainstream themes in economic and financial history - monetary policy, international financial regulation, economic performance, exchange rate systems, international trade, banking and financial markets - where historical perspectives are considered important. The current wave of globalisation has stimulated interest in many of these areas as ‘lessons of history’ are sought. These themes also reflect the breadth of Capie’s work in terms of time periods and topics.
Although the 1920s had witnessed a wave of bank failures, the situation worsened after the 1929 stock market crash, and by the winter of 1932-1933, complete banking collapse threatened much of the nation. President Hoover's stopgap measures proved totally inadequate, the author shows, and by March 4, the day of Roosevelt's inauguration, thirty-four states had declared banking moratoriums. Of special interest in this study is Ms. Kennedy's examination of relations between Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Something is wrong with our banking system. We all sense that, but Mervyn King knows it firsthand; his ten years at the helm of the Bank of England, including at the height of the financial crisis, revealed profound truths about the mechanisms of our capitalist society. In The End of Alchemy he offers us an essential work about the history and future of money and banking, the keys to modern finance.
The Industrial Revolution built the foundation of our modern capitalist age. Yet the flowering of technological innovations during that dynamic period relied on the widespread adoption of two much older ideas: the creation of paper money and the invention of banks that issued credit. We take these systems for granted today, yet at their core both ideas were revolutionary and almost magical. Common paper became as precious as gold, and risky long-term loans were transformed into safe short-term bank deposits. As King argues, this is financial alchemy—the creation of extraordinary financial powers that defy reality and common sense. Faith in these powers has led to huge benefits; the liquidity they create has fueled economic growth for two centuries now. However, they have also produced an unending string of economic disasters, from hyperinflations to banking collapses to the recent global recession and current stagnation.
How do we reconcile the potent strengths of these ideas with their inherent weaknesses? King draws on his unique experience to present fresh interpretations of these economic forces and to point the way forward for the global economy. His bold solutions cut through current overstuffed and needlessly complex legislation to provide a clear path to durable prosperity and the end of overreliance on the alchemy of our financial ancestors.