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Current Policy under the Lens of Economic History

A Conference to Commemorate the Federal Reserve System’s Centennial

December 13–14, 2012


The Federal Reserve System has been shaped by economic crises since its earliest days. It was born of the 1907 financial panic, and its structure and responsibilities have been altered a number of times over the past century by subsequent crises, along with changes in the economy and economic theory.

The Great Recession saw the Federal Reserve—like many other central banks—push several of its traditional policy operations in decidedly nontraditional directions. These actions have brought praise from some quarters and criticism from others.

We gathered some of the world’s leading monetary, financial, and central-bank historians to apply their perspective and insights to current policy debates. This conference investigated many of the most pressing policy issues currently facing central banks, through the lens of economic history.

We also used the occasion to honor Michael D. Bordo for his considerable contributions to financial and monetary history.  Mike has been a visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland for many years.