IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/10161.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Choosing the Federal Reserve Chair: Lessons from History

Author

Listed:
  • Christina D. Romer
  • David H. Romer

Abstract

This 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.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10161 Note: ME
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w10161.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "The quest for prosperity without inflation," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(3), pages 633-663, April.
    3. 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.
    4. Christina D. Romer & David Romer, 2002. "The evolution of economic understanding and postwar stabilization policy," Proceedings - Economic Policy Symposium - Jackson Hole, Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, pages 11-78.
    5. 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.
    6. Thomas Mayer, 1999. "Monetary Policy and the Great Inflation in the United States," Books, Edward Elgar Publishing, number 1601, April.
    7. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • 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

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:10161. See general 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.