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Majority Rule, Consensus Building, and the Power of the Chairman: Arthur Burns and the FOMC

Author

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  • Chappell, Henry W, Jr
  • McGregor, Rob Roy
  • Vermilyea, Todd

Abstract

This paper investigates decision making within the Federal Open Market Committee of the Federal Reserve, focusing on the competing pressures of majority rule, consensus building, and the power of the Chairman. To undertake this analysis, we have constructed an original data set recording desired federal funds rates for each member of the Committee over the 1970-78 period. Our results confirm a disproportionate influence of the Chairman in the policy process; they also confirm that other voting members of the Committee have an impact on policy choices. Estimates indicate that the Chairman exercises 40% to 50% of the voting weight in Committee decisions.

Suggested Citation

  • Chappell, Henry W, Jr & McGregor, Rob Roy & Vermilyea, Todd, 2004. "Majority Rule, Consensus Building, and the Power of the Chairman: Arthur Burns and the FOMC," Journal of Money, Credit and Banking, Blackwell Publishing, vol. 36(3), pages 407-422, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:mcb:jmoncb:v:36:y:2004:i:3:p:407-22
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Dreher, Axel & Lamla, Michael J. & Lein, Sarah M. & Somogyi, Frank, 2009. "The impact of political leaders' profession and education on reforms," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 37(1), pages 169-193, March.
    2. Etienne Farvaque & Norimichi Matsueda & Pierre-Guillaume Méon, 2007. "How committees reduce the volatility of policy rates," DULBEA Working Papers 07-11.RS, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    3. Michael Ehrmann & Marcel Fratzscher, 2013. "Dispersed communication by central bank committees and the predictability of monetary policy decisions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(1), pages 223-244, October.
    4. Smales, Lee A. & Apergis, Nick, 2016. "The influence of FOMC member characteristics on the monetary policy decision-making process," Journal of Banking & Finance, Elsevier, vol. 64(C), pages 216-231.
    5. Schultefrankenfeld, Guido, 2017. "Appropriate monetary policy and forecast disagreement at the FOMC," Discussion Papers 39/2017, Deutsche Bundesbank.
    6. repec:pri:cepsud:167blinder is not listed on IDEAS
    7. El-Shagi, Makram & Jung, Alexander, 2015. "Does the Greenspan era provide evidence on leadership in the FOMC?," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 43(C), pages 173-190.
    8. Petra Gerlach-Kristen, 2008. "The Role of the Chairman in Setting Monetary Policy: Individualistic vs. Autocratically Collegial MPCs," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 4(3), pages 119-143, September.
    9. Christopher Spencer, 2005. "Consensus Formation in Monetary Policy Committees," School of Economics Discussion Papers 1505, School of Economics, University of Surrey.
    10. repec:eee:jbfina:v:80:y:2017:i:c:p:33-50 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Petra Gerlach-Kristen & Ellen E. Meade, 2010. "Is There a Limit on FOMC Dissents? Evidence from the Greenspan Era," Working Papers 2010-16, American University, Department of Economics.
    12. Alan S. Blinder, 2009. "Making Monetary Policy by Committee," International Finance, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 12(2), pages 171-194, August.
    13. Berger, Helge & Nitsch, Volker & Lybek, Tonny, 2008. "Central bank boards around the world: Why does membership size differ?," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 24(4), pages 817-832, December.
    14. Hamza Bennani, 2016. "Measuring Monetary Policy Stress for Fed District Representatives," Scottish Journal of Political Economy, Scottish Economic Society, vol. 63(2), pages 156-176, May.
    15. Jan Marc Berk & Beata K. Bierut, 2010. "Monetary Policy Committees: Meetings And Outcomes," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 28(4), pages 569-588, October.
    16. Mikael Apel & Carl Andreas Claussen & Petra Lennartsdotter & Øistein Røisland, 2015. "Monetary Policy Committees: Comparing Theory and "Inside" Information from MPC Members," International Journal of Central Banking, International Journal of Central Banking, vol. 11(4), pages 47-89, December.
    17. Bosman, R. & Maier, P. & Sadiraj, V. & van Winden, F., 2013. "Let me vote! An experimental study of vote rotation in committees," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 96(C), pages 32-47.
    18. Claussen, Carl Andreas & Matsen, Egil & Røisland, Øistein & Torvik, Ragnar, 2012. "Overconfidence, monetary policy committees and chairman dominance," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 81(2), pages 699-711.
    19. Henry Chappell & Rob McGregor & Todd Vermilyea, 2007. "The persuasive power of a Committee Chairman: Arthur Burns and the FOMC," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(1), pages 103-112, July.
    20. Farvaque, Etienne & Matsueda, Norimichi & Méon, Pierre-Guillaume, 2009. "How monetary policy committees impact the volatility of policy rates," Journal of Macroeconomics, Elsevier, vol. 31(4), pages 534-546, December.
    21. Gerlach-Kristen, Petra, 2008. "Taking two steps at a time: On the optimal pattern of policy interest rates," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 32(2), pages 550-570, February.
    22. repec:bla:ecopol:v:29:y:2017:i:2:p:118-132 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Horvath, Roman & Rusnak, Marek & Smidkova, Katerina & Zapal, Jan, 2011. "Dissent voting behavior of central bankers: what do we really know?," MPRA Paper 34638, University Library of Munich, Germany.

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