The Federal Reserve after World War II
It is very helpful to put the recent crisis and the ongoing recovery into historical context. As we go along, I want to make sure you keep your eyes on the ball, that is, the two basic missions of a central bank. The first is maintaining macroeconomic stability: maintaining stable growth and keeping inflation low and stable. The principal policy tool for maintaining macroeconomic stability is monetary policy. In normal times, the Fed and other central banks use open market operations—purchases and sales of securities in markets—to move interest rates up or down, and in doing so try to create a more stable macroeconomic environment.
The second part of a central bank’s mission is maintaining financial ...