Research Handbook on Central Banking
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Research Handbook on Central Banking

Edited by Peter Conti-Brown and Rosa M. Lastra

Central banks occupy a unique space in their national governments and in the global economy. The study of central banking however, has too often been dominated by an abstract theoretical approach that fails to grasp central banks’ institutional nuances. This comprehensive and insightful Handbook, takes a wider angle on central banks and central banking, focusing on the institutions of central banking. By 'institutions', Peter Conti-Brown and Rosa Lastra refer to the laws, traditions, norms, and rules used to structure central bank organisations. The Research Handbook on Central Banking’s institutional approach is one of the most interdisciplinary efforts to consider its topic, and includes chapters from leading and rising central bankers, economists, lawyers, legal scholars, political scientists, historians, and others.
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Chapter 2: Central banking and institutional change in the United States: punctuated equilibrium in the development of money, finance and banking

Peter Conti-Brown


The experience of institutional change at central banks in the United States has been unique and influential. In this chapter, financial historian Conti-Brown traces the singular experience of central banking in the US from the Banks of the United States through the 2008 financial crisis. Particular attention is paid to the rise and fall and rise and fall of the Banks of the United States; the creation of the Federal Reserve System; the changes to the Fed during the Roosevelt Administration and especially under the leadership of Marriner Eccles; the Fed-Treasury Accord of 1951, seen by some as creating the modern independent Federal Reserve, but in fact much more of a tentative understanding at the time. The chapter also analyzes various dynamics between US Presidents and Fed Chairs, perhaps the most important relationship in determining what kind of central bank the US will have. It concludes with a reflection on how the 2008 crisis has changed the Fed and its political relationships.

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