Allan H. Meltzer's critically acclaimed history of the Federal
Reserve is the most ambitious, most intensive, and most revealing
investigation of the subject ever conducted. Its first volume,
published to widespread critical acclaim in 2003, spanned the
period from the institution's founding in 1913 to the restoration
of its independence in 1951. This two-part second volume of the
history chronicles the evolution and development of this
institution from the Treasury-Federal Reserve accord in 1951 to the
mid-1980s, when the great inflation ended. It reveals the inner
workings of the Fed during a period of rapid and extensive change.
An epilogue discusses the role of the Fed in resolving our current
economic crisis and the needed reforms of the financial system.
In rich detail, drawing on the Federal Reserve's own documents,
Meltzer traces the relation between its decisions and economic and
monetary theory, its experience as an institution independent of
politics, and its role in tempering inflation. He explains, for
example, how the Federal Reserve's independence was often
compromised by the active policy-making roles of Congress, the
Treasury Department, different presidents, and even White House
staff, who often pressured the bank to take a short-term view of
its responsibilities. With an eye on the present, Meltzer also
offers solutions for improving the Federal Reserve, arguing that as
a regulator of financial firms and lender of last resort, it should
focus more attention on incentives for reform, medium-term
consequences, and rule-like behavior for mitigating financial
crises. Less attention should be paid, he contends, to command and
control of the markets and the noise of quarterly data.
At a time when the United States finds itself in an
unprecedented financial crisis, Meltzer's fascinating history will
be the source of record for scholars and policy makers navigating
an uncertain economic future.
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