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A Hands-off Central Banker? Marriner S. Eccles and the Federal Reserve Policy, 1934-1951

  • Matias Vernengo
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    Marriner Eccles is often seen as an early defender of Keynesian ideas. In that respect, it is generally accepted that he considered monetary policy of secondary importance, and that as a result he allowed the Federal Reserve to be submitted to the interests of the Treasury. In this view, the Federal Reserve after 1935 acquired new instruments to command monetary policy, but it did not change its behavior significantly. Further, his defense of the Federal Reserve-Treasury accord in 1951 is sometimes seen as a reversal of his previous policy stances. This paper claims that proper understanding of Eccles’ views is necessary to appreciate the changes in monetary policy during the Great Depression and World War II. Rather than a hands-off central banker, that submitted the Fed to the Treasury, a more proper depiction of Eccles tenure at the Fed would be as a Main Street chairman.

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    Paper provided by University of Utah, Department of Economics in its series Working Paper Series, Department of Economics, University of Utah with number 2006_04.

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    Length: 26 pages
    Date of creation: 2006
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published in American Policy and Power, R. Leeson (Ed.) London: Macmillan.
    Handle: RePEc:uta:papers:2006_04
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    1. Charles W. Calomiris & David C. Wheelock, 1997. "Was the Great Depression a Watershed for American Monetary Policy?," NBER Working Papers 5963, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Robert Leeson, 1997. "The Eclipse of the Goal of Zero Inflation," History of Political Economy, Duke University Press, vol. 29(3), pages 445-496, Fall.
    3. Orphanides, Athanasios, 2003. "Historical monetary policy analysis and the Taylor rule," Journal of Monetary Economics, Elsevier, vol. 50(5), pages 983-1022, July.
    4. Peter Temin, 1991. "Lessons from the Great Depression," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262700441, June.
    5. Richard H. Timberlake, 1999. "The tale of another chairman," The Region, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, issue Jun, pages 32-35, 64, .
    6. Alan S. Blinder, 1999. "Central Banking in Theory and Practice," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262522608, June.
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