The Federal Reserve: A New History (Hardcover)
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An illuminating history of the Fed from its founding through the tumult of 2020.
In The Federal Reserve: A New History, Robert L. Hetzel draws on more than forty years of experience as an economist in the central bank to trace the influences of the Fed on the American economy. Comparing periods in which the Fed stabilized the economy to those when it did the opposite, Hetzel tells the story of a century-long pursuit of monetary rules capable of providing for economic stability.
Recast through this lens and enriched with archival materials, Hetzel’s sweeping history offers a new understanding of the bank’s watershed moments since 1913. This includes critical accounts of the Great Depression, the Great Inflation, and the Great Recession—including how these disastrous events could have been avoided.
A critical volume for a critical moment in financial history, The Federal Reserve is an expert, sweeping account that promises to recast our understanding of the central bank in its second century.
About the Author
Robert L. Hetzel is a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, a senior affiliated scholar at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, and a fellow in the Institute for Applied Economics, Global Health, and the Study of Business Enterprise at Johns Hopkins University. His most recent books include The Monetary Policy of the Federal Reserve: A History and The Great Recession: Market Failure or Policy Failure?.
"Robert Hetzel presents a historical narrative of how the Federal Reserve has responded to the state of the economy, exploring the evolution of monetary policy over time in terms of the consistency in its response to the economy’s behavior. The Federal Reserve [examines] the lead-up to and fallout from the Great Recession, the 2008 ﬁnancial crisis, and the European debt crisis, [analyzes] Fed credit and monetary policy during the COVID-19 pandemic, [and considers] how to make the monetary standard explicit and determine the optimal monetary standard."
— Journal of Economic Literature
"Hetzel's book skillfully traces out the Fed's uneven history. He carefully identifies and explains the reasons for the Fed's major failures and successes and he covers the most recent episodes—the financial crisis, Great Recession, and the COVID-19 crisis—in great detail. Hetzel's own intellectual framework provides valuable nuances, resulting in a unified view of Fed policy, before and after 1980, with reference to a single model."
— Peter Ireland, Boston College
"This book does for monetary policy what Doug Irwin's Clashing over Commerce did for trade policy. It is original in its historical coverage and in its ideas, and it offers a novel critique of classics in the field. Unlike many other monetary history books, this is written by a real insider, who has been active in monetary policy for decades. His points will be of interest to historians as well as economists. Through Hetzel's broad historical sweep, one can see both good monetary policy and bad monetary policy, and thereby learn from history."
— John B. Taylor, Stanford University
"Robert Hetzel’s book provides a very informative and detailed history of the monetary policy conducted by the Fed. Readers interested in Fed history will enjoy reading the book and learn a great deal from it. Hetzel takes a sympathetic but also critical look at the Fed’s actions since its inception. The book testifies to the challenges and difficulties faced by central banks in charting an appropriate policy course."
— Georg Rich, retired director and chief economist of the Swiss National Bank