Earlier this month Chairman Hensarling and Monetary Policy and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Campbell announced the committee's “Federal Reserve Centennial Oversight Project” – an aggressive series of hearings slated during 2014 that will culminate in the markup of legislation to reform how the nation’s central bank operates. The Oversight Project coincides with the 100th anniversary of the Fed’s creation later this month, as well as the expected Senate confirmation of a new Federal Reserve chairman.
“The Federal Reserve Centennial Oversight Project will be the most vigorous and sustained assessment and evaluation the Fed has received in its history,” Chairman Hensarling said. “Our committee has an obligation to carefully scrutinize the Federal Reserve’s decisions, especially since the Fed has either implicitly or explicitly assumed so many mandates and has, historically, been subject to little or no congressional oversight.”
Here's what they're saying after the first full committee hearing on the oversight project:
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Hensarling, while a vocal critic of the Fed’s recent efforts to boost the economy, said he was entering into this process with an open mind, vowing any reform legislation would be informed by what is learned during the hearings.
“I believe that it has gone too far, yes, but again I have an open mind,” he said. “I’m willing to sit down with others and to have them explain or articulate why the Fed should be able to exercise certain powers.”
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Some Republicans have questioned whether the Fed would be more effective if it did not have the so-called dual mandate of keeping unemployment low and prices stable.
“The Fed is independent, and it should be independent, but it’s not unaccountable,” said Rep. John Campbell (R-Calif.).
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Campbell and Hensarling also say the Fed’s purchases of government debt are encouraging deficit spending by allowing the government to borrow cheaply. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note has averaged 2.31 percent this year, compared with a 6.61 percent mean over the past half century.
“The Fed’s additional extraordinary purchases of Treasury bonds have supported the Obama administration’s trillion-dollar deficits,” Hensarling said at a Dec. 12 hearing.
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The congressional review coincides with a debate among Fed policy makers on how to wind down a third round of bond buying, or quantitative easing, that has pushed the Fed’s balance sheet to a record $3.93 trillion.