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The New Central Planning - Essay Example

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The New Central Planning

Pitched to a general audience, "The Federal Reserve and the Financial Crisis" is part of the chairman's praiseworthy effort to increase Fed transparency. The first two lectures cover the origins and history of the Fed. Mr. Bernanke identifies three primary functions of central banks: to conduct monetary policy (i.e., controlling of the supply of money by setting interest rates); to serve as lenders of last resort (i.e., providing liquidity for important institutions to stave off financial crises); and to regulate the financial system (i.e., limiting the risks that banks and other players in financial markets may take). Yet he hardly discusses the quantity of money in circulation or the Feds effect on it. The omission reflects the fact that Mr. Bernanke has dramatically altered the nature of central banking. Under his management, the Fed now tries to determine to which sectors the economy's savings flow, and monetary policy has become solely about setting interest rates. To his credit, Mr. Bernanke considers the merits of the classical gold standard, in which the dollar was fully redeemable for a specific quantity of gold. He believes that its gains in long-run price stability were more than counterbalanced by the short-run economic fluctuations it caused. But as University of Georgia economist George Selgin pointed out after the lectures were delivered, the chairmans argument against the gold standard suffers from some severe weaknesses. For starters, it ignores the path-breaking research of Christina Romer, former chairman of President Obamas Council of Economic Advisers, which demonstrated that the frequency and severity of recessions werent significantly greater before the Feds creation in 1913 than after World War II. This casts doubt on the ability of the Fed with its fiat money to tame the business cycle any better than did the gold standard without the Feds intrusions. ...Show more

Summary

This essay “The New Central Planning” investigates what role should the Federal Reserve play in the U.S. economy. Mr. Bernanke identifies three primary functions of central banks: to conduct monetary policy; to serve as lenders of last resort and to regulate the financial system…
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