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Jerome Lyle Rappaport

Jerome Lyle Rappaport
Founder and Board Member
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Edward Glaeser

Edward Glaeser
Professor of Economics at Harvard University
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Stephen P. Johnson
Executive Director of Phyllis and Jerome Lyle Rappaport Foundation
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Greg Massing

Greg Massing
Executive Director for the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service
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Alasdair Roberts

Alasdair Roberts
Professor of Law and Public Policy at Suffolk University Law School
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Joseph Curtatone

Joseph Curtatone
Mayor, City of Somerville
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Tim H. Davis

Tim H. Davis
Independent Research Consultant
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Scott Harshbarger
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Vivien Li
Executive Director of The Boston Harbor Association
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Guest contributors

Monika Bandyopadhyay
Suffolk University Law Student

David Barron
Harvard Law School and former Deputy Counsel for the Office of Legal Counsel in the US Department of Justice

Linda Bilmes
Senior lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. Assistant Secretary of Commerce during the Clinton Administration.

Brandy H.M. Brooks
Director, Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence, Bruner Foundation

Felicia Cote
Rappaport Fellow, Harvard Law School/Harvard Kennedy School.

Amanda Eden
Suffolk University Law School student

Sara Farnum
Student, Suffolk Univ. Law School

Kristin Faucette
Student at Suffolk University Law School

Benjamin Forman
Research Director, MassINC

Arthur Hardy-Doubleday
JD/MBA student at Suffolk University Law School and the Sawyer School of Business

Theodore Kalivas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

David Linhart
Student, Boston University School of Law

Antoniya Owens
Research Analyst, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc.

Susan Prosnitz
Senior Advisor, TSA, Washington, DC

Ben Thomas
Boston Green Blog, Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy

Matthew Todaro
Student at Boston College Law School

Alexander von Hoffman
Senior Researcher, Joint Center for Housing Studies

Brett Walker
Student, Boston College Law School

Margarita Warren
Student at Suffolk University Law School

The Rise and Fall of the Guardians

Monday, January 25th, 2010
By Alasdair Roberts

The financial crisis has seemingly battered the credibility of the U.S. Federal Reserve. But not according to Alan Blinder, the former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. In September 2009, Blinder argued on ForeignAffairs.com that the Fed was still a model of sound decision-making. In fact, the real problem with the U.S. government, he wrote, is that it places "too many decisions in the political realm and too few in the technocratic one."

Blinder has made this argument before. In a 1997 tribute to the Federal Reserve in Foreign Affairs, Blinder offered what he called "a nasty little thought" -- that the country would be "better off if more public policy decisions were removed from the political thicket."

At the time, such a thought might have seemed like heresy. The crumbling of the Soviet bloc, the collapse of South Africa's apartheid regime, and the fall of many Latin American military dictatorships had renewed faith in populist democratic politics. "People have grown up," explained then British Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2004. "They want to make their own life choices." Blinder, in embracing technocratic governance, appeared to be rowing against the tide.

But Blinder was not alone. In the past quarter century, elected leaders have publicly professed their allegiance to populism. In practice, however, they have often vested more authority in technocrats. The most obvious area in which technocratic rule appeared to triumph was central banking. In the 1970s, most central banks still answered to elected officials. Politicians judged authority over monetary policy to be too important to be surrendered to technocrats. Even in 1989, then Australian Treasurer Paul Keating argued that central bank autonomy "was completely at odds with our traditions requiring public officials to be in the end accountable." 

For the full text of this article click here.



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