Monetary Policy and the Quest for Robust Political Economy
Peter J. Boettke
George Mason University - Department of Economics
Daniel J. Smith
Troy University - Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy
March 29, 2012
The economics profession not only failed to predict the recent financial crisis; it has been struggling in its aftermath to reach a consensus on the cause(s) of the crisis. While competing narratives are being offered and evaluated, the narrow scope of the debate on the strictly technical aspects of monetary policy that have contributed to and prolonged the crisis has precluded the broader examination of questions of political economy that may prove to be of greater import. Attempting to find the technically optimal policy is futile when the Federal Reserve’s independence is undermined by the political influences of contemporary democracy. Nobel Laureates F.A. Hayek, Milton Friedman, and James Buchanan each sought ways to constrain and protect a monetary authority from political pressures in their research. Each one ended up rejecting the possibility of doing so without a fundamental restructuring of our monetary regime. Hayek turned to denationalization, Buchanan to constitutionalism, and Friedman to binding rules. We incorporate their experiences to make a case for applying the concepts of robust political economy to the Federal Reserve. Robust political economy calls for relaxing idealized assumptions in order to seek out institutional regimes that can overcome both the epistemic and motivational hurdles that characterize contemporary democratic settings.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 54
Keywords: financial crisis, Federal Reserve, monetary policy, robust political economy, central bank independence
JEL Classification: E58, E61, P16, P26working papers series
Date posted: December 6, 2010 ; Last revised: August 25, 2012
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