John C. Williams ved SF Fed taler om økonomisk utdanning.

Til en sal full av økonomer fra utdanningsinstitusjoner hadde John C. Williams dette å si om økonomiutdannelsen (noen utdrag, meg i fet):

FRBSF Economic Letter: Economics Instruction and
the Brave New World of Monetary Policy (2011-17, 6/6/2011)
This evening I will talk about some of the profound changes that have taken place in central banking and monetary policy over the past half century and what that means for teaching about the Federal Reserve at the collegiate level. I should say here that my comments represent my own views and not necessarily those of my Federal Reserve colleagues.

As I know from personal experience, teaching about monetary policy today can be especially challenging when actual events overtake textbooks and lesson plans. In early 2008, I taught macroeconomics at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. At the time, the Fed was creating new programs and new tools to deal with the burgeoning financial crisis. The textbook descriptions of the traditional monetary policy tools of reserve requirements, open market operations, and the discount window missed much of what was happening in the real world. I took away an appreciation of how difficult it was to keep my lectures up-to-date with rapidly evolving events. Let me give you an idea of how much things have changed. Today the Board of Governors website lists 12 monetary policy tools. Nine of them didn’t exist four years ago. The good news is that six of those tools are no longer in existence, reflecting the improvement in financial conditions.


When I was an undergraduate at Berkeley in the early 1980s, much of the monetary economics that I learned was based on theories from the 1950s or even earlier. These included the quantity theory of money, Keynes’s LM curve, Milton Friedman’s monetarism, and the Baumol-Tobin theory of money demand, to name a few examples. Now, there’s no question that Keynes, Friedman, and Tobin were among the greatest monetary theorists of all time. Their theories are elegant statements of fundamental economic principles. As such, they deserve to be taught for a long time to come. But viewing them as definitive in today’s world is like thinking that rock and roll stopped with Elvis Presley. The evolution of money and banking since the 1950s is at least as dramatic as what’s happened with popular music—not that I want to compare the Fed with Lady Gaga. The theories of that era need to be adapted to the brave new world in which we now live.


Why has the money multiplier broken down? Well, one reason is that banks would rather hold reserves safely at the Fed instead of lending them out in the still struggling and risky economy. But, once the economy improves sufficiently, won’t banks start lending more actively in order to earn greater profits on their funds? And won’t that get the money multiplier going again? And can’t the resulting huge increase in the money supply overheat the economy, leading to higher inflation? The answer is no, and the reason for this is a profound, but largely unappreciated change in the inner workings of monetary policy.


The important point is that the additional stimulus to the economy from our asset purchases is primarily a result of lower interest rates, rather than through a textbook process of reserve creation leading to an increased money supply. It is through its effects on interest rates and other financial conditions that monetary policy affects the economy. Of course, once the economy improves sufficiently, the Fed will need to raise interest rates to keep the economy from overheating and excessive inflation from emerging. It can do this in two ways: by raising the interest rate paid on reserves along with the target federal funds rate; and by reducing its holdings of these securities, which will reverse the effects of the asset purchase programs on interest rates.


I’ve tried to highlight some of the challenges faced by traditional monetary theory in light of the dramatic changes in the economy and monetary policy. I said at the beginning of my talk that those changes represent a challenge for economics instructors. When you read the commentary in blogs and the news media, you sometimes find confusion and misinformation about what the Fed is doing. There is no question that, at the Fed, we have to do a better job explaining the theoretical and practical bases for our policies. At the same time, we depend on you to educate citizens who can make sense of the world as it is today. Thank you very much.

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