Regulatory Reform and the Federal Reserve

Thank you for the opportunity to present my appraisal of the administration's proposal for regulatory changes. I will confine most of my comments to the role of the Federal Reserve as a systemic regulator and will offer an alternative proposal. I share the belief that change is needed and long delayed, but appropriate change must protect the public, not bankers.

During much of the past 15 years, I have written three volumes entitled A History of the Federal Reserve. Working with two assistants we have read virtually all of the minutes of the Board of Governors, the Federal Open Market Committee, and the Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. We have also read many of the staff papers and internal memos supporting decisions. I speak from that perspective.

Two findings are very relevant to the role of the Federal Reserve. First, I do not know of any clear examples in which the Federal Reserve acted in advance to head off a crisis or a series of banking or financial failures. We know that the Federal Reserve did nothing about thrift industry failures in the 1980s. Thrift failures cost taxpayers $ 150 billion. AIG, Fannie and Freddie will be much more costly. Of course, the Fed did not have responsibility for the thrift industry, but many thrift failures posed a threat to the financial system that the Fed should have tried to mitigate. The disastrous outcome was not a mystery that appeared without warning. Peter Wallison, Alan Greenspan, Bill Poole, Senator Shelby and others warned about the excessive risks taken by Fannie and Freddie, but Congress failed to legislate. Why should anyone expect a systemic risk regulator to get requisite Congressional action under similar circumstances? Can you expect the Federal Reserve as systemic risk regulator to close Fannie and Freddie after Congress declines to act?

Click here to read the full testimony as an Adobe Acrobat PDF.

Allan H. Meltzer is a visiting scholar at AEI.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Allan H.
Meltzer

What's new on AEI

AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters
image A nation divided by marriage
image Teaching reform
image Socialist party pushing $20 minimum wage defends $13-an-hour job listing
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 27
    MON
  • 28
    TUE
  • 29
    WED
  • 30
    THU
  • 31
    FRI
Monday, October 27, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
State income taxes and the Supreme Court: Maryland Comptroller v. Wynne

Please join AEI for a panel discussion exploring these and other questions about this crucial case.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 9:30 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
For richer, for poorer: How family structures economic success in America

Join Lerman, Wilcox, and a group of distinguished scholars and commentators for the release of Lerman and Wilcox’s report, which examines the relationships among and policy implications of marriage, family structure, and economic success in America.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014 | 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
The 7 deadly virtues: 18 conservative writers on why the virtuous life is funny as hell

Please join AEI for a book forum moderated by Last and featuring five of these leading conservative voices. By the time the forum is over, attendees may be on their way to discovering an entirely different — and better — moral universe.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
A nuclear deal with Iran? Weighing the possibilities

Join us, as experts discuss their predictions for whether the United States will strike a nuclear deal with Iran ahead of the November 24 deadline, and the repercussions of the possible outcomes.

Thursday, October 30, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:15 p.m.
The forgotten depression — 1921: The crash that cured itself

Please join Author James Grant and AEI senior economists for a discussion about Grant's book, "The Forgotten Depression: 1921: The Crash That Cured Itself" (Simon & Schuster, 2014).

No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.