Shifting Mandates: The Federal Reserve's First Centennial
15 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 2013
The mandate of the Federal Reserve has evolved considerably over its hundred-year history. From an initial focus in 1913 on financial stability, to fiscal financing in World War II and its aftermath, to a strong anti-inflation focus from the late 1970s, and then back to greater emphasis on financial stability since the Great Contraction. Yet, as the Fed's mandate has expanded in recent years, its range of instruments has narrowed, partly based on a misguided belief in the inherent stability of financial markets. We briefly discuss the active use in an earlier era of multiple instruments, including reserve requirements, credit controls and interest rate ceilings.
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