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Allan H. Meltzer's monumental history of the Federal Reserve System tells the story of one of America's most influential but least understood public institutions. This first volume covers the period from the Federal Reserve's founding in 1913 through the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of 1951, which marked the beginning of a larger and greatly changed institution.
Allan H. Meltzer's monumental history of the Federal Reserve System tells the story of one of America's most influential but least understood public institutions. This first volume covers the period from the Federal Reserve's founding in 1913 through the Treasury-Federal Reserve Accord of 1951, which marked the beginning of a larger and greatly changed institution. To understand why the Federal Reserve acted as it did at key points in its history, Meltzer draws on meeting minutes, correspondence, and other internal documents (many made public only during the 1970s) to trace the reasoning behind its policy decisions. He explains, for instance, why the Federal Reserve remained passive throughout most of the economic decline that led to the Great Depression, and how the Board's actions helped to produce the deep recession of 1937 and 1938. He also highlights the impact on the institution of individuals such as Benjamin Strong, governor of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York in the 1920s, who played a key role in the adoption of a more active monetary policy by the Federal Reserve. Meltzer also examines the influence the Federal Reserve has had on international affairs, from attempts to build a new international financial system in the 1920s to the Bretton Woods Agreement of 1944 that established the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and the failure of the London Economic Conference of 1933. Written by one of the world's leading economists, this magisterial biography of the Federal Reserve and the people who helped shape it will interest economists, central bankers, historians, political scientists, policymakers, and anyone seeking a deep understanding of the institution that controls America's purse strings.
Allan H. Meltzer's critically acclaimed history of the Federal Reserve is the most ambitious, most intensive, and most revealing investigation of the subject ever conducted. Its first volume, published to widespread critical acclaim in 2003, spanned the period from the institution's founding in 1913 to the restoration of its independence in 1951. This two-part second volume of the history chronicles the evolution and development of this institution from the Treasury-Federal Reserve accord in 1951 to the mid-1980s, when the great inflation ended. It reveals the inner workings of the Fed during a period of rapid and extensive change. An epilogue discusses the role of the Fed in resolving our current economic crisis and the needed reforms of the financial system. In rich detail, drawing on the Federal Reserve's own documents, Meltzer traces the relation between its decisions and economic and monetary theory, its experience as an institution independent of politics, and its role in tempering inflation. He explains, for example, how the Federal Reserve's independence was often compromised by the active policy-making roles of Congress, the Treasury Department, different presidents, and even White House staff, who often pressured the bank to take a short-term view of its responsibilities. With an eye on the present, Meltzer also offers solutions for improving the Federal Reserve, arguing that as a regulator of financial firms and lender of last resort, it should focus more attention on incentives for reform, medium-term consequences, and rule-like behavior for mitigating financial crises. Less attention should be paid, he contends, to command and control of the markets and the noise of quarterly data. At a time when the United States finds itself in an unprecedented financial crisis, Meltzer's fascinating history will be the source of record for scholars and policy makers navigating an uncertain economic future.
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