Introduction: Symposium on Peter Conti-Brown’s The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve

by Chris Walker — Monday, Apr. 4, 2016@chris_j_walker

I’m excited to announce that over the next week or so we will be hosting an online symposium reviewing my co-blogger Peter Conti-Brown’s important new book The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve , which was just published by the Princeton University Press. Here’s an overview of the book from the publisher’s website:

The independence of the Federal Reserve is considered a cornerstone of its identity, crucial for keeping monetary policy decisions free of electoral politics. But do we really understand what is meant by “Federal Reserve independence”? Using scores of examples from the Fed’s rich history, The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve shows that much common wisdom about the nation’s central bank is inaccurate. Legal scholar and financial historian Peter Conti-Brown provides an in-depth look at the Fed’s place in government, its internal governance structure, and its relationships to such individuals and groups as the president, Congress, economists, and bankers.

Exploring how the Fed regulates the global economy and handles its own internal politics, and how the law does—and does not—define the Fed’s power, Conti-Brown captures and clarifies the central bank’s defining complexities. He examines the foundations of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913, which established a system of central banks, and the ways that subsequent generations have redefined the organization. Challenging the notion that the Fed Chair controls the organization as an all-powerful technocrat, he explains how institutions and individuals—within and outside of government—shape Fed policy. Conti-Brown demonstrates that the evolving mission of the Fed—including systemic risk regulation, wider bank supervision, and as a guardian against inflation and deflation—requires a reevaluation of the very way the nation’s central bank is structured.

Investigating how the Fed influences and is influenced by ideologies, personalities, law, and history, The Power and Independence of the Federal Reserve offers a clear picture of this uniquely important institution.

Although the book is still hot off the press, it has already received a number of glowing reviews, and it has been the subject of a really terrific book club over at The Conglomerate. I doubt our symposium will be too duplicative, though, as we’ve assembled scholars with diverse regulatory backgrounds—leveraging our Yale Journal on Regulation co-bloggers and our friends and partners at the ABA Section of Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice.

I’ll save my substantive thoughts on the book for the day I’m slated to post my review. First on deck—later today—is my co-blogger Daniel Hemel’s take on Peter’s argument about the Fed’s potentially unconstitutional status in the modern administrative state.

 

@chris_j_walker

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About Chris Walker

Christopher Walker is a law professor at The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Prior to joining the law faculty, Professor Walker clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court and worked on the Civil Appellate Staff at the U.S. Department of Justice. His publications have appeared in the Michigan Law Review, Minnesota Law Review, Stanford Law Review, and University of Pennsylvania Law Review, among others. Outside the law school, he serves as one of forty Public Members of the Administrative Conference of the United States and on the Governing Council for the American Bar Association’s Section on Administrative Law and Regulatory Practice. He blogs regularly at the Yale Journal on Regulation.

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