Taylor: Recent Trends in Federal Reserve Transparency and Accountability (Congressional Testimony)

Available here.  From the testimony:

To address current concerns in Congress about a lack of transparency and accountability at the Fed—as expressed by the title of this hearing—it is useful to consider recent historical trends. As Ben Bernanke put it in 2008, “The Congress has also long been aware of the importance of Federal Reserve transparency and accountability. In particular, a series of resolutions and laws passed in the 1970s set clear policy objectives for the Federal Reserve and required it to provide regular reports and testimony to the Congress.”
One of the most important moves toward transparency and accountability in the past 25 years occurred in February 1994 when the Fed began to announce its target for the federal funds rate and to report publicly whenever it decided to increase it or decrease it. While Fed monetary policy decisions in the years before that were made in terms of a federal funds rate target, markets had to guess what the target was. The decisions were often communicated by the Fed  through the financial press and Fed-watchers in vague and confusing ways, and the Fed was misinterpreted on a number of occasions. The lack of transparency gave an advantage to market participants who could get some kind of information about what the decision was. It also adversely affected accountability to Congress and the public about what the Fed was doing, and made it difficult for economists outside the Fed, or people in “civil society” more generally, to comment or do research and analysis on Fed policy. This 1994 transparency reform changed much of that.

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