The Federal Reserve, one of the nation’s most important institutions, is essential for economic stability. It has held a particularly critical role in protecting our economy during the pandemic. Some feel, though, that recent interventions by the Fed have been too aggressive and politicized and that the central bank mandate should not expand beyond monetary and regulatory policies. The pandemic exacerbated inequalities, especially among more marginalized populations, but is it the role of the Fed to address such inequities? How can this powerful independent institution be best utilized to create economic stability for all Americans?
The fall Cotter Debate brought to campus two experts who discussed both sides of this issue. Karen Petrou is the co-founder and managing partner at Federal Financial Analytics and author of Engine of Inequality: The Fed and the Future Wealth of America. Paul Wachtel is a professor of economics in the Stern School of Business at New York University. The debate was moderated by Rob Lester, associate professor of economics at Colby and member of the Goldfarb Faculty Advisory Committee.