November 19, 2010

Has the Fed Been a Failure?


In a working paper from the Cato Institute three American scholars assess whether the U.S. experiment with the Federal Reserve has been a success or a failure. In the light of a wide range of recent empirical research they found that

  1. The Fed's full history (1914 to present) has been characterized by more rather than fewer symptoms of monetary and macroeconomic instability than the decades leading to the Fed's establishment.
  2. While the Fed's performance has undoubtedly improved since World War II, even its postwar performance has not clearly surpassed that of its undoubtedly flawed predecessor, the National Banking system, before World War I.
  3. Some proposed alternative arrangements might plausibly do better than the Fed as presently constituted. We conclude that the need for a systematic exploration of alternatives to the established monetary system is as pressing today as it was a century ago.

The scholars are George A. Selgin, professor at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, William D. Lastrapes, professor at the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia, and Lawrence H. White, professor at the Department of Economics at George Mason University.
Here is the full text of the working paper:

Has the Fed Been a Failure?, Cato Working Paper No. 2



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