Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Academics Spar With Populists Over Fed Audits

A group of academic economists – including several Nobel Prize winners, leaders of respected economic journals and former Fed officials – is dialing up its call for lawmakers to drop plans to subject the Federal Reserve to more scrutiny by the Government Accountability Office, an investigative arm of Congress.

In a letter to leaders on the Senate Banking Committee and House Financial Services Committee, the economists say a bill proposed by Rep. Ron Paul (R., Tex.) and Alan Grayson (D., Fla.) to let the GAO review Fed monetary policy would do “serious harm to the economy.” They warn increased congressional oversight would harm the Fed’s independence and ability to fight inflation.

Mr. Paul has built a popular movement in part on his attacks against the Fed and won large support in the House for his bill. Ben Bernanke, Fed chairman, has a growing body of academics on his side. Some 270 economists have signed the letter, including Edward Prescott, Myron Scholes, Daniel McFadden, Fynn Kydland, Roger Myerson and Robert Engel, all Nobel winners.


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