Summary of Federal Reserve Independence in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis

Should We Be Worried?

Brookings Institution Press,

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Federal Reserve Independence in the Aftermath of the Financial Crisis summary
The long knives are out for the Federal Reserve.


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When a Texas hopeful for the 2012 Republican nomination for US president said of Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, “We would treat him pretty ugly down in Texas,” a shock rippled through central banking circles. Threats of violence by mainstream political candidates against the central bank head don’t happen every day, but they do signal a partisan animus against the Fed’s continuing independence. Donald Kohn, former Fed vice chairman, argues that the US central bank’s freedom to set policy and its accountability to the American people are not mutually exclusive. While always politically neutral, getAbstract recommends this thoughtful summary of the Fed’s recent history and Kohn’s cogent argument for the Fed’s “instrument independence” to Fed watchers of all stripes.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why political support for the Federal Reserve has eroded,
  • Why the Fed’s “instrument independence” doesn’t prevent it from being accountable to the American people, and
  • Why the auditing of Fed monetary policy by an arm of Congress would bring undue political pressure to Fed decision making.


As the most serious financial challenge since the Great Depression battered the seeming success of the Great Moderation, the Federal Reserve, like many other central banks, implemented novel policies to prevent a 1930s-style crisis. Many such policies – adding riskier assets to its balance sheet to ...
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About the Authors

Economist Donald Kohn is a former vice chairman of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

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