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Changing the Federal Reserve’s Mandate: An Economic Analysis

CRS – Changing the Federal Reserve’s Mandate: An Economic Analysis. Marc Labonte, Specialist in Macroeconomic Policy. August 12, 2013
“The Federal Reserve’s (Fed’s) current statutory mandate calls for it to “promote effectively the goals of maximum employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates.” Some economists have argued that this mandate should be replaced with a single mandate of price stability. Often the proposal for a single mandate is paired with a more specific proposal that the Fed should adopt an inflation target. Under an inflation target, the goal of monetary policy would be to achieve an explicit, numerical target or range for some measure of price inflation. Inflation targets could be required by Congress or voluntarily adopted by the Fed as a way to pursue price stability, or a single mandate could be adopted without an inflation target. Alternatively, an inflation target could be adopted under the current mandate. In January 2012, the Fed voluntarily introduced a “longer-run goal for inflation” of 2%, which some might consider an inflation target. In the 113th Congress, H.R. 1174/S. 238 and S. 215 would strike the goal of maximum employment from the mandate, leaving a single goal of price stability, and require the Fed to adopt an inflation target. Were a single mandate to be adopted in the United States, it would follow an international trend that has seen many foreign central banks adopt single mandates or inflation targets in recent decades.”

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