Recent work


“From ‘Real Bills’ to ‘Too Big to Fail’: H. Parker Willis and the Federal Reserve’s First Century,” H. Parker Willis Lecture, Washington & Lee University, Lexington, Virginia, February 27, 2018. Cato Journal, Vol. 39, No. 1 (Winter 2019), pdf, lecture, H. Parker Willis Lecture Series. Willis was an economics professor at Washington & Lee University who went on to serve as advisor to Congressman Carter Glass during the drafting of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. He was a die-hard proponent of the "real bills doctrine" -- the idea that monetary policy would be appropriate if the Fed were permitted to lend only against loans arising from "real" commercial transactions such as trade finance or bills of exchange, as opposed to "speculative" investments such as stocks, bonds or commodities. Thus Fed lending was an essential adjunct to effective monetary policy for Willis and other founders of the Federal Reserve. The real bills doctrine was inherently flawed, though, and adherence to it led to Fed policy blunders in the early 1930s. Over time, Fed lending became divorced from monetary policy and lending policy evolved. Rescuing investors in failed financial institutions emerged beginning in the 1970s, setting precedents which arguably encouraged financial fragility and contributed to the financial crisis of 2007-09.

Comments on “Forward Guidance” by Marcus Hagedorn, Jinfeng Luo, Iourii Manovskii and Kurt Mitman. Carnegie-Rochester-New York University Conference on Public Policy Honoring the Contributions of Charles Plosser to Economics, April 20, 2018, Rochester NY. Published comments, slides, conference agenda. I was delighted to participate in a gathering honoring Charlie Plosser.

"On Systemic Risk," presented at the Second Joint Central Bank Research Conference on Risk Measurement and Systemic Risk at the Bank of Japan, Tokyo, Japan, November 16, 1998. Paper, conference. Ok, so this is not recent work, but it is not in the conference proceedings and it strikes me as still relevant.


Cato Institute Daily Podcast - The Federal Reserve's Ongoing Mission Creep, interview with Caleb O. Brown, posted December 21, 2018, recorded November 15, 2018.

Breakingviews - The Exchange, Reuters podcast hosted by Rob Cox, posted October 9, 2018, recorded September 5, 2018. Discussing the financial crisis of 2007-09 from the perspective of the Richmond Federal Reserve district.

The Farr Cast, podcast, with Michael Farr, posted and recorded September 25, 2018; my segment starts at about 27:00.

Full Disclosure, podcast on NPR One, with Roben Farzad, posted September 20, 2018, recorded September 17, 2018.