A New Era at the Federal Reserve: Some Challenges and Opportunities for Change

May 8, 2006

As Ben Bernanke settles into his new role as chairman of the Federal Reserve, now is an opportune time for him to reassess certain aspects of the central bank’s activities and practices. The Shadow Open Market Committee will discuss some of the dimensions of the challenges facing the Fed. How much further should the Fed tighten monetary policy? As the Fed considers inflation targeting, what would be an appropriate measure of inflation to target? To improve transparency, the Fed needs to provide a more open discussion of what it considers the most important drivers of inflation and why. In addition, the Fed might consider ways of conducting policy based on alternative sets of rules or guidelines. The SOMC will also review the appropriate role of the Fed in select nonmonetary activities that the Fed has taken on over the years. Do they contribute to the Fed’s performance of its monetary policy responsibility, or are they time-consuming distractions? Examples include setting margin requirements for equity purchases, supervising consumer finance, regulating banks, and intervening in the foreign exchange markets.


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