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A Review of Allan Meltzer’s A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2

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  • Edward Nelson

    (Federal Reserve Board)

Abstract

This paper reviews Allan H. Meltzer’s A History of the Federal Reserve, Volume 2. This two-book volume covers Federal Reserve policies from 1951 to 1986. The book represents an enormous achievement in synthesizing a great amount of archival information into a historical account grounded on economic analysis. At the same time, Meltzer’s interpretation of specific eras is open to question. He does not appear to acknowledge adequately the degree to which 1950s monetary policy decisions had a solid analytical foundation. Furthermore, Meltzer’s account of the shift from the 1970s inflation to the 1980s disinflation implausibly stresses a shift in policymakers’ objective function. The crucial change over this period, both in the United States and other countries, is more likely to have been policymakers’ improved grasp of the connections between monetary policy and inflation. The review also takes issue with Meltzer’s account, in his book’s epilogue, of the financial crisis from 2007 to 2009. In this epilogue, Meltzer understates the degree to which the Federal Reserve’s reaction to the financial crisis was in line with the historical practice of the Federal Reserve and other central banks.

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by International Journal of Central Banking in its journal International Journal of Central Banking.

Volume (Year): 8 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 (June)
Pages: 241-266

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Handle: RePEc:ijc:ijcjou:y:2012:q:2:a:7

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  1. Riccardo DiCecio & Edward Nelson, 2009. "The great inflation in the United States and the United Kingdom: reconciling policy decisions and data outcomes," Working Papers 2009-015, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
  2. Milton Friedman & Anna J. Schwartz, 1963. "A Monetary History of the United States, 1867-1960," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number frie63-1.
  3. Dean Scrimgeour, 2008. "The Great Inflation Was Not Asymmetric: International Evidence," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 40(4), pages 799-815, 06.
  4. N. Gregory Mankiw, 1986. "The Term Structure of Interest Rates Revisited," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 17(1), pages 61-110.
  5. Alfred Broaddus & Marvin Goodfriend, 1985. "Base drift and the longer run growth of M1 : experience from a decade of monetary targeting," Working Paper 85-01, Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.
  6. Allan H. Meltzer, 1965. "Monetary Theory and Monetary History," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 101(IV), pages 404-422, December.
  7. von Hagen, Jurgen, 1999. "Money growth targeting by the Bundesbank," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 43(3), pages 681-701, June.
  8. Giorgio Primiceri, 2005. "Why Inflation Rose and Fell: Policymakers' Beliefs and US Postwar Stabilization Policy," NBER Working Papers 11147, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Carl E. Walsh, 2003. "Monetary Theory and Policy, 2nd Edition," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 2, volume 1, number 0262232316, December.
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