The Myth of Fed Independence

[Excerpted from The Case Against The Fed.]

By far the most secret and least accountable operation of the federal government is not, as one might expect, the CIA, DIA, or some other super-secret intelligence agency. The CIA and other intelligence operations are under control of the Congress. They are accountable: a Congressional committee supervises these operations, controls their budgets, and is informed of their covert activities. It is true that the committee hearings and activities are closed to the public; but at least the people’s representatives in Congress insure some accountability for these secret agencies.

It is little known, however, that there is a federal agency that tops the others in secrecy by a country mile. The Federal Reserve System is accountable to no one; it has no budget; it is subject to no audit; and no Congressional committee knows of, or can truly supervise, its operations. The Federal Reserve, virtually in total control of the nation’s vital monetary system, is accountable to nobody—and this strange situation, if acknowledged at all, is invariably trumpeted as a virtue.

Thus, when the first Democratic president in over a decade was inaugurated in 1993, the maverick and venerable Democratic chairman of the House Banking Committee, Texan Henry B. Gonzalez, optimistically introduced some of his favorite projects for opening up the Fed to public scrutiny. His proposals seemed mild; he did not call for full-fledged Congressional control of the Fed’s budget. The Gonzalez Bill required full independent audits of the Fed’s operations; videotaping the meetings of the Fed’s policy-making committee; and releasing detailed minutes of the policy meetings within a week, rather than the Fed being allowed, as it…

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