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Economic Brief

Feb. 5, 2020

Richmond Fed Research Says Presidential Politics and Monetary Policy Don’t Mix

The Richmond Fed’s latest Economic Brief uses the U.S. presidential election of 1896 as a natural experiment to measure the impact of exchange-rate uncertainty on bank balance sheets and the broader economy.

The evidence suggests that the election’s contentious free-silver debate significantly constrained banking activity and real economic activity by creating greater uncertainty about U.S. commitment to the gold standard. This finding reinforces the modern-day wisdom of insulating monetary policy from politics.

The Richmond Fed’s Economic Brief series provides web-exclusive essays on economic issues and trends. Sign up to receive an email notification when a new essay is posted.

As part of our nation’s central bank, the Richmond Fed is one of 12 regional Reserve Banks working together with the Board of Governors to support a healthy economy and deliver on our mission to foster economic stability and strength. We connect with community and business leaders across the Fifth Federal Reserve District — including the Carolinas, District of Columbia, Maryland, Virginia, and most of West Virginia — to monitor economic conditions, address issues facing our communities, and share this information with monetary and financial policymakers. We also work with banks to ensure they are operating safely and soundly, supply financial institutions with currency that’s fit for distribution, and provide a safe and efficient way to transfer funds through our nation’s payments system.


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