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Economic Quarterly

Second Quarter 2014

The Real Bills Views of the Founders of the Fed

Robert L. Hetzel

The founders of the Federal Reserve desired to end financial panics. In order to achieve this end, they created a decentralized collection of reserve depositories — the Federal Reserve banks. They also wanted to remove control of the financial system from Wall Street. At the time, policymakers understood financial panics as resulting from speculative excess, especially on Wall Street. These "real bills" views of financial panic originated in the 19th century American experience. They influenced monetary policy significantly until the post-World War II period.

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