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This department of Econ Focus looks at the issues and trends affecting monetary policy and other functions of the Federal Reserve.


Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2022

Policymakers are considering possible design features

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2022

Regulators are considering changes to how the 1977 law is implemented

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2021

For policymakers and market participants, inflation can be challenging to predict

Econ Focus, Second/Third Quarter 2021

Not everyone experiences the same inflation. What does that mean for monetary policy?

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2021

With a revised strategy, the Fed responds to challenges facing central banks today

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the supply of many items, including cold hard cash

Econ Focus, Second/Third Quarter 2020

The Fed is using emergency lending powers it invoked during the Great Recession to respond to COVID-19 — but it cast a wider net this time

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2020

The market for repurchase agreements has repeatedly adapted to changing circumstances

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2019

Banks in the United States have long had choices between state and federal banking authorities

Econ Focus, Second/Third Quarter 2019

Some economists and policymakers have argued for increasing public spending. What might that mean for inflation and monetary policy?

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2019

Fed policy has effects outside U.S. borders, but what can monetary policymakers here and abroad do about it?

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2018

Has the natural rate of interest lost its luster as a navigation aid for monetary policy?

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2018

The Fed has developed a new reference rate to replace the troubled LIBOR. Will banks make the switch?

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2018

Modeling the U.S. economy on computers has come a long way since the 1950s. It's still a work in progress

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2018

The Fed has long emphasized uncertainty in assessing the economic effects of tax cuts. Both history and theory might help explain why

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2017

Can payments be made to work faster, safer, and more efficiently?

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2017

When is inflation too low?

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2017

Although very uncommon now, the Fed used to intervene regularly in foreign exchange markets

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2017

A financial crisis in Mexico in the mid-1990s sparked a debate about the Fed's role in international markets and its independence

Econ Focus, Third/Fourth Quarter 2016

The storied showdown between Fed Chairman Bill Martin and President Lyndon Johnson wasn't just about personalities. It was a fundamental dispute over the Fed's policymaking role

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2016

How Congress holds monetary policymakers accountable

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2016

Multiple central banks have dipped policy rates to negative levels — and uncharted waters

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2015

The financial crisis of 2007-2008 was just the latest chapter in a long debate over how to minimize the risk of bank runs and other liquidity crunches

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2015

In a novel move, a new transportation-funding law is sending billions from the Fed's surplus account to help pay for roads, bridges, and mass transit

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2015

In 1994, the Federal Reserve launched a pre-emptive strike against inflation in a series of interest rate hikes that drew controversy at the time

Helen Fessenden

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2015

A secret meeting at a secluded resort led to a new central banking system

Econ Focus, Fourth Quarter 2014

Two nineteenth-century English writers, Henry Thornton and Walter Bagehot, saw a limited role for a “lender of last resort”

Econ Focus, Third Quarter 2014

Does the hawk-dove distinction still matter in the modern Fed?

Econ Focus, Second Quarter 2014

Economists ponder whether demographic change will reduce the potency of the Fed's interest rate moves

Econ Focus, First Quarter 2014

How much does the Fed's success depend on who's at the helm?


Index displays content through 2014. Earlier articles dating back to 2003 are available on our website in PDF form only.