The Federal Reserve's second 100 years

Dianna Ingram | Bergman Group

The Federal Reserve has had a remarkable career in the 100 years since Congress created it on December 23, 1913. What are the Fed’s next 100 years likely to bring?

It is daunting but also liberating to make such guesses about the very long term, since one is bound to get many things wrong. The human mind is incapable of imagining in advance the novelties that so much time will bring. For example, the authors of the Federal Reserve Act could certainly not have even imagined, let alone expected, what their creation has become in a century. They would have been utterly dumbfounded at a Federal Reserve that:

  • Is formally committed to, and is producing on purpose, perpetual inflation.
  • Has no link of any kind to a gold standard.
  • Thinks it is supposed to, and that it is capable of, “managing the economy.”
  • Invests vast amounts in, and monetizes, real estate mortgages.
  • Has chairmen who achieve media star status, as for example, “The Maestro.”
  • Wields the authority of a unitary central bank, centralized in Washington D.C., rather than being a federal system of regional “reserve banks.”

Can we have any hope of making some good predictions? Perhaps. Consider the 100-year predictions that the brilliant F.E. Smith, Lord Birkenhead, made in 1930 in his book, The World In 2030.

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About the Author

 

Alex J.
Pollock
  • Alex J. Pollock is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he studies and writes about housing finance; government-sponsored enterprises, including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and the Federal Home Loan Banks; retirement finance; and banking and central banks. He also works on corporate governance and accounting standards issues.


    Pollock has had a 35-year career in banking and was president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Chicago for more than 12 years immediately before joining AEI. A prolific writer, he has written numerous articles on financial systems and is the author of the book “Boom and Bust: Financial Cycles and Human Prosperity” (AEI Press, 2011). He has also created a one-page mortgage form to help borrowers understand their mortgage obligations.


    The lead director of CME Group, Pollock is also a director of the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and the chairman of the board of the Great Books Foundation. He is a past president of the International Union for Housing Finance.


    He has an M.P.A. in international relations from Princeton University, an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Chicago, and a B.A. from Williams College.


  • Phone: 202.862.7190
    Email: apollock@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Emily Rapp
    Phone: (202) 419-5212
    Email: emily.rapp@aei.org

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