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How Central Should the Central Bank Be?

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  • Alan S. Blinder

Abstract

The nature and scope of the Federal Reserve's authority and the structure of its decision making are now "on the table" to an extent that has not been seen since 1935, and the Fed's vaunted independence is under some attack. This essay asks what the Federal Reserve should -- and shouldn't -- do, leaning heavily on the concept of economies of scope. In particular, I conclude that the central bank should monitor and regulate systemic risk because preserving financial stability is (a) closely aligned with the standard objectives of monetary policy and (b) likely to require lender of last resort powers. I also conclude that the Fed should supervise large financial institutions because that function is so closely to regulating systemic risk. However, several other functions now performed by the Fed could easily be done elsewhere. ( JEL E52, E58, G21, G28)

Suggested Citation

  • Alan S. Blinder, 2010. "How Central Should the Central Bank Be?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(1), pages 123-133, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jeclit:v:48:y:2010:i:1:p:123-133
    Note: DOI: 10.1257/jel.48.1.123
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    File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jel.48.1.123
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Daron Acemoglu & Simon Johnson & Pablo Querubin & James A. Robinson, 2008. "When Does Policy Reform Work? The Case of Central Bank Independence," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 39(1 (Spring), pages 351-429.
    2. Alan S. Blinder, 2000. "Central-Bank Credibility: Why Do We Care? How Do We Build It?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(5), pages 1421-1431, December.
    3. Rudebusch, Glenn D., 2002. "Term structure evidence on interest rate smoothing and monetary policy inertia," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(6), pages 1161-1187, September.
    4. Allen N. Berger & Anil K. Kashyap & Joseph M. Scalise, 1995. "The Transformation of the U.S. Banking Industry: What a Long, Strange Trips It's Been," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 26(2), pages 55-218.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • E52 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Monetary Policy
    • E58 - Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics - - Monetary Policy, Central Banking, and the Supply of Money and Credit - - - Central Banks and Their Policies
    • G21 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Banks; Other Depository Institutions; Micro Finance Institutions; Mortgages
    • G28 - Financial Economics - - Financial Institutions and Services - - - Government Policy and Regulation

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