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Book part
Publication date: 28 April 2016

Patrick Newman

This paper analyzes the two main divergent interpretations of Federal Reserve monetary policy in the 1920s, the expansionary view described by Rothbard (2008a [1963]) and…

Abstract

This paper analyzes the two main divergent interpretations of Federal Reserve monetary policy in the 1920s, the expansionary view described by Rothbard (2008a [1963]) and earlier “Austrian” writers, and the contractionary view most notably held by Friedman and Schwartz (1993 [1963]) and later monetary historians. This paper argues in line with the former that the Federal Reserve engaged in expansionary monetary policy during the 1920s, as opposed to the gold sterilization view of the latter. The main rationale for this argument is that the increase in the money supply was driven by the increase in the money multiplier and total bank reserves, both of which were caused primarily by Fed policy (i.e., a decrease in reserve requirements and an increase in controlled reserves, respectively). Showing that this expansion did in fact occur provides the first step in supporting an Austrian Business Cycle Theory (ABCT) interpretation of the 1920s, namely that the Federal Reserve created a credit fueled boom that led to the Great Depression, although this is not pursued in the paper.

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Studies in Austrian Macroeconomics
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78635-274-3

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Article
Publication date: 5 April 2013

Charles G. Leathers and J. Patrick Raines

In speeches and testimonies, Alan Greenspan claimed intellectual links between his financial policies and the ideas of Milton Friedman and Joseph A. Schumpeter on banks…

Abstract

Purpose

In speeches and testimonies, Alan Greenspan claimed intellectual links between his financial policies and the ideas of Milton Friedman and Joseph A. Schumpeter on banks, central banks, and financial crises. As the financial crisis deepened in 2008, Greenspan admitted that his policies had been shockingly wrong. The purpose of this paper is to explain why his claims of intellectual links between those policies and the ideas of Friedman and Schumpeter were also wrong.

Design/methodology/approach

Beginning with representative examples of Greenspan's citations of Friedman and of Schumpeter as supporting his financial policies, the authors review the economic ideas of Friedman and Schumpeter on banks, central banks, and financial crises. In each case, we contrast Greenspan's financial policies with those ideas, demonstrating the spurious nature of his claims of intellectual links.

Findings

While expanding the role of the Federal Reserve in the financial markets, Greenspan's financial policies were based on the declaration that deregulation and financial innovations were providing flexibility and stability for the entire financial system. In his financial policies, Greenspan rejected Friedman's recommendations for changes in the powers and functioning of the Federal Reserve that featured a monetary policy rule and the 100 percent reserve requirement for deposits that would involve the separation of depository banking from loans and investments. From a Schumpeterian perspective, Greenspan's policies encouraged and facilitated the massive “reckless” finance that was responsible for the financial crisis of 2007‐2009.

Originality/value

Greenspan's legacy as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board is one of policies that first contributed to recurring financial crises of increasing severity and were then followed by an extraordinary policy expansion of the Federal Reserve in attempts to cope with the crises. On that basis, it is important to have a clear understanding of the lack of intellectual support for those policies from the influential economists with whom he claimed intellectual links.

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Book part
Publication date: 1 November 2008

James L. Butkiewicz

Eugene Meyer governed the Federal Reserve Board during most of the Great Contraction. Yet his role and import are almost unknown. He was not misguided by incorrect policy…

Abstract

Eugene Meyer governed the Federal Reserve Board during most of the Great Contraction. Yet his role and import are almost unknown. He was not misguided by incorrect policy indicators or the real bills doctrine; the usual explanations for the failure of monetary policy. Meyer urged the adoption of expansionary policies and created the Reconstruction Finance Corporation to assist banks, especially nonmembers. However, the diffusion of power enabled the district bank Governors to stifle his efforts, although an expansionary policy was finally adopted in 1932. His unquestioning commitment to gold and lack of operational authority are the reasons policy failed.

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Research in Economic History
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84855-337-8

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Book part
Publication date: 18 March 2014

John A. James and David F. Weiman

The increased use of checks in nonlocal payments at the end of the nineteenth century presented problems for their clearing and collection. Checks were required to be paid…

Abstract

The increased use of checks in nonlocal payments at the end of the nineteenth century presented problems for their clearing and collection. Checks were required to be paid in full (at par) only when presented directly to the drawn-upon bank at its counter. Consequently, many, primarily rural or small-town, banks began to charge remittance fees on checks not presented for collection in person. Such fees and the alleged circuitous routing of checks in the process of collection to avoid them were widely criticized defects of the pre-Federal Reserve payments system. As the new Federal Reserve established its own system for check clearing and collection, it also took as an implicit mandate the promotion of universal par clearing and collection. The result was a bitter struggle with non-par banks, the numbers of which initially shrunk dramatically but then rebounded. A 1923 Supreme Court decision ended the Fed’s active (or coercive) pursuit of universal par clearing, and non-par banking persisted thereafter for decades. Not until the Monetary Control Act of 1980 was universal par clearing and true monetary union, in which standard means of payment are accepted at par everywhere, achieved.

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Book part
Publication date: 25 January 2012

Haelim Park and Gary Richardson

Soon after beginning operations, the Federal Reserve established a nationwide network for collecting information about the economy. In 1919, the Fed began tabulating data…

Abstract

Soon after beginning operations, the Federal Reserve established a nationwide network for collecting information about the economy. In 1919, the Fed began tabulating data by about retail sales, which it viewed as a fundamental measure of consumption. From 1920 until 1929, the Federal Reserve published data about retail sales each month by Federal Reserve district, but ceased to do so after 1929. It continued to compile monthly data on retail sales by reserve district, but this data remained in house. We collected these in-house reports from the archives of the Board of Governors and constructed a consistent series on retail trade at the district level. The new series enhances our understanding of economic trends during the Roaring ‘20s and Great Depression.

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Research in Economic History
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78052-246-3

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Article
Publication date: 9 March 2012

Charles G. Leathers and J. Patrick Raines

During the Greenspan‐Bernanke era, the responses of Federal Reserve officials to financial crises resulted in an extraordinary involvement of the US central bank in the…

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Abstract

Purpose

During the Greenspan‐Bernanke era, the responses of Federal Reserve officials to financial crises resulted in an extraordinary involvement of the US central bank in the non‐banking financial sector. The purpose of this paper is to examine the informal and evolving conceptual framework that allows Federal Reserve officials to pursue a strategy of “constrained discretion” in responding to financial disturbances.

Design/methodology/approach

Behavioural economics relies on designed psychological and economic experiments to predict behavioural biases at the group level. As an analogue applicable to understanding biases in the intuitive judgments of individual policymakers, a naïve behavioural economics approach relies on intuitive or naive psychology and the interpretation of historical events as natural experiments to explain why intuitive judgments of Federal Reserve officials will contain biases.

Findings

Under the Greenspan‐Bernanke conceptual framework, Federal Reserve officials exercise “constrained discretion” in responding to disturbances arising from macro structural changes in the financial sector. The two key concepts are the Greenspan‐Bernanke doctrine on how the Federal Reserve officials respond to financial asset price bubbles and their collapses, and Bernanke's financial accelerator. Several examples are cited in which policy errors made by Alan Greenspan were attributable to identifiable biases in his intuitive judgment. In addition, Bernanke's response to the financial crisis of 2007‐2009 was based on his interpretation of the Great Depression as a natural experiment. But that interpretation was heavily biased by the influence of Milton Friedman on Bernanke's intuitive judgment. While Federal Reserve officials will need to exercise discretionary judgment in responding to financial crises, the potential for errors due to biases in that judgment can be reduced through regulatory reforms that lessen the potential for financial crises to occur.

Originality/value

While quantitative analyses of the effects of the Federal Reserve's actions on non‐bank financial institutions and the financial markets are ongoing, little attention has been given to the psychological aspects of the intuitive judgment that influences the discretionary decisions of the policymakers.

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Article
Publication date: 12 February 2018

Ashish Lall

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive historical review of the role of the Federal Reserve in retail payments in the USA.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to provide a comprehensive historical review of the role of the Federal Reserve in retail payments in the USA.

Design/methodology/approach

It reviews the literature on the role of the Federal Reserve and assessments of its involvement.

Findings

In addition to its oversight and operational role, the Federal Reserve has conducted R&D and facilitated technology adoption. It has provided effective competition to the private sector without subsidies.

Research limitations/implications

The Federal Reserve has served the public interest and private networks have benefited from the “visible hand” of government.

Practical implications

Migration to electronic payments will likely change its role from an operator to setting standards for safety and security.

Originality/value

The historical review provides context against which the future strategy of the Federal Reserve may be assessed.

Details

Journal of Financial Regulation and Compliance, vol. 26 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1358-1988

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1997

Anghel N. Rugina

The equation of unified knowledge says that S = f (A,P) which means that the practical solution to a given problem is a function of the existing, empirical, actual…

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Abstract

The equation of unified knowledge says that S = f (A,P) which means that the practical solution to a given problem is a function of the existing, empirical, actual realities and the future, potential, best possible conditions of general stable equilibrium which both pure and practical reason, exhaustive in the Kantian sense, show as being within the realm of potential realities beyond any doubt. The first classical revolution in economic thinking, included in factor “P” of the equation, conceived the economic and financial problems in terms of a model of ideal conditions of stable equilibrium but neglected the full consideration of the existing, actual conditions. That is the main reason why, in the end, it failed. The second modern revolution, included in factor “A” of the equation, conceived the economic and financial problems in terms of the existing, actual conditions, usually in disequilibrium or unstable equilibrium (in case of stagnation) and neglected the sense of right direction expressed in factor “P” or the realization of general, stable equilibrium. That is the main reason why the modern revolution failed in the past and is failing in front of our eyes in the present. The equation of unified knowledge, perceived as a sui generis synthesis between classical and modern thinking has been applied rigorously and systematically in writing the enclosed American‐British economic, monetary, financial and social stabilization plans. In the final analysis, a new economic philosophy, based on a synthesis between classical and modern thinking, called here the new economics of unified knowledge, is applied to solve the malaise of the twentieth century which resulted from a confusion between thinking in terms of stable equilibrium on the one hand and disequilibrium or unstable equilibrium on the other.

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International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 24 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Abstract

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Further Documents from F. Taylor Ostrander
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-0-76231-354-9

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Book part
Publication date: 25 March 2010

Barrie A. Wigmore

Studies of Depression-era financial remediation have generally focused on federal deposit insurance and the provision of equity to banks by the Reconstruction Finance…

Abstract

Studies of Depression-era financial remediation have generally focused on federal deposit insurance and the provision of equity to banks by the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC). This paper broadens the concept of financial remediation to include other programs – RFC lending, federal guarantees of farm and home mortgages, and the elimination of interest on demand deposits – and other intermediaries – savings and loans, mutual savings banks, and life insurance companies. The benefits of remediation or the amounts potentially at risk to the government in these programs are calculated annually and allocated to the various intermediaries. The slow remediation of real estate loans (two-thirds of these intermediaries' loans) needs further study with respect to the slow economic recovery. The paper compares Depression-era remediation with efforts during the 2008–2009 crisis. Today's remediation contrasts with the 1930s in its speed, magnitude relative to GDP or private sector nonfinancial debt, the share of remediation going to nonbanks, and emphasis on securities markets.

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Research in Economic History
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-771-4

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