Choosing the Federal Reserve Chair: Lessons from History
AbstractThis paper uses the lessons of history to identify the sources of monetary policy successes and failures in the past and to suggest a strategy for choosing successful Federal Reserve chairs in the future. It demonstrates that since at least the mid-1930s, the key determinant of the quality of monetary policy has been policymakers' beliefs about how the economy functions and what monetary policy can accomplish. When the Federal Reserve chairman and other policymakers have believed that inflation is costly, that inflation responds to the deviation of output from a moderate estimate of capacity, and that monetary policy can affect output and prices, as was the case in the 1950s and the 1980s and beyond, policy was well tempered and macroeconomic outcomes were desirable. When policymakers held other beliefs, such as the view that monetary policy cannot stimulate a depressed economy or that slack is ineffective in reducing inflation, as was the case in the 1930s and the 1970s, policy and outcomes were undesirable. This finding suggests that the key characteristic to look for in future Federal Reserve chairs is a sound economic framework. The paper shows that the best predictor of the beliefs previous chairmen held while in office are their prior writings, speeches, and confirmation hearings. Therefore, in choosing future chairs, it is crucial to evaluate the intellectual frameworks of potential nominees, and to reject candidates whose views are worrisome.
Download InfoIf you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.
Bibliographic InfoArticle provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.
Volume (Year): 18 (2004)
Issue (Month): 1 (Winter)
Other versions of this item:
- Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2003. "Choosing the Federal Reserve Chair: Lessons from History," NBER Working Papers 10161, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
- E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
- Frederic S. Mishkin, 1981.
"The Real Interest Rate: An Empirical Investigation,"
NBER Working Papers
0622, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Mishkin, Frederic S., 1981. "The real interest rate: An empirical investigation," Carnegie-Rochester Conference Series on Public Policy, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 151-200, January.
- Athanasios Orphanides, 2004.
"Monetary policy in deflation: the liquidity trap in history and practice,"
Finance and Economics Discussion Series
2004-01, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.).
- Orphanides, Athanasios, 2004. "Monetary policy in deflation: the liquidity trap in history and practice," The North American Journal of Economics and Finance, Elsevier, vol. 15(1), pages 101-124, March.
- Volcker, Paul A., 1978. "The role of monetary targets in an age of inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 4(2), pages 329-339, April.
- Orphanides, Athanasios, 1999.
"The Quest for Prosperity Without Inflation,"
Working Paper Series
93, Sveriges Riksbank (Central Bank of Sweden).
- Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2002.
"The Evolution of Economic Understanding and Postwar Stabilization Policy,"
NBER Working Papers
9274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
- Christina D. Romer & David H. Romer, 2002. "The evolution of economic understanding and postwar stabilization policy," Proceedings, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 11-78.
- Nathan Balke & Robert J. Gordon, 1986. "Appendix B Historical Data," NBER Chapters, in: The American Business Cycle: Continuity and Change, pages 781-850 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
This item has more than 25 citations. To prevent cluttering this page, these citations are listed on a separate page. reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.Access and download statisticsgeneral information about how to correct material in RePEc.
For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Jane Voros) or (Michael P. Albert).
If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.
If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.
If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.
If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.
Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.