Political Economists or Political Economists? The Role of Political Environments in the Formation of Fed Policy Under Burns, Greenspan, and Bernanke

AIER Sound Money Project Working Paper No. 2018-04

48 Pages Posted: 24 Jul 2017 Last revised: 2 Apr 2018

Alexander William Salter

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business; American Institute for Economic Research

Daniel J. Smith

Middle Tennessee State University - Department of Economics and Finance

Date Written: March 16, 2018

Abstract

How do political environments influence the behavior of economists who transition from academic and business environments to policymaking positions? And, more specifically, are an economist’s preexisting beliefs and principles congruent with their policy stances and actions once they transition into a policy role? These questions are particularly relevant when it comes to central banking because central bankers, who wield substantial economic influence, are often selected for policy roles based partly on their stated principles and beliefs. To address these questions, we analyze the writings and speeches of three economists, Arthur Burns, Alan Greenspan, and Ben Bernanke, as they transitioned to becoming chairmen of the Fed. The tension between their previously stated views and their subsequent policy stances as Fed chairmen suggest that operation within political institutions impelled them to alter their views. Our findings suggest it is important to take a realistic view of politics and the political process when discussing central banking and monetary policy.

Keywords: Central banking, monetary policy, public choice, political economy

JEL Classification: D73, E58, H00, P16

Suggested Citation

Salter, Alexander William and Smith, Daniel J., Political Economists or Political Economists? The Role of Political Environments in the Formation of Fed Policy Under Burns, Greenspan, and Bernanke (March 16, 2018). AIER Sound Money Project Working Paper No. 2018-04. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3005647 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3005647

Alexander William Salter (Contact Author)

Texas Tech University - Rawls College of Business ( email )

Lubbock, TX 79409
United States

HOME PAGE: http://awsalter.com

American Institute for Economic Research

PO Box 1000
Great Barrington, MA 01230
United States

Daniel J. Smith

Middle Tennessee State University - Department of Economics and Finance ( email )

MTSU Box 27
1301 E. Main St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37132-0001
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danieljosephsmith.com/

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