Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 27 No. 4 (Fall 2013)


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A Century of US Central Banking: Goals, Frameworks, Accountability

Article Citation

Bernanke, Ben S. 2013. "A Century of US Central Banking: Goals, Frameworks, Accountability." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 27(4): 3-16.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.27.4.3


Several key episodes in the 100-year history of the Federal Reserve have been referred to in various contexts with the adjective "Great" attached to them: the Great Experiment of the Federal Reserve's founding, the Great Depression, the Great Inflation and subsequent disinflation, the Great Moderation, and the recent Great Recession. Here, I'll use this sequence of "Great" episodes to discuss the evolution over the past 100 years of three key aspects of Federal Reserve policymaking: the goals of policy, the policy framework, and accountability and communication. The changes over time in these three areas provide a useful perspective, I believe, on how the role and functioning of the Federal Reserve have changed since its founding in 1913, as well as some lessons for the present and for the future.

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Bernanke, Ben S. (Federal Reserve Board)

JEL Classifications

E31: Price Level; Inflation; Deflation
E32: Business Fluctuations; Cycles
E52: Monetary Policy
E58: Central Banks and Their Policies
N12: Economic History: Macroeconomics and Monetary Economics; Industrial Structure; Growth; Fluctuations: U.S.; Canada: 1913-
N22: Economic History: Financial Markets and Institutions: U.S.; Canada: 1913-


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