The Supreme Court of Finance: A History of the US Federal Reserve

Students

2020
Wharton

Faculty

Assistant Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics

Project Summary

This past summer, I had the privilege of working with Professor Peter Conti Brown on a research project in the Legal Studies and Business Ethics department. As one of several researchers working on a project pertaining to the operations and political positioning of the Federal Reserve as an independent central bank, I was tasked with looking into prominent Federal Reserve chairmen over the past 60 years. I spent a great deal of my time analyzing the political climate and external factors that lead to the appointment and decision making processes of several chairmen.

In order to gain a greater understanding of the changing political climate that has surrounded the Fed over the past 6 decades, I analyzed hundreds of primary resources. I scoured databases such as JSOTR, Proquest, and Google Scholar, to find newspaper articles, congressional testimony, academic journals, and dissertations that could aid my research. Over the course of my mentorship, I curated memos to summarize and document my research and collated thousands of primary sources into digestible and accessible formats for future reference. 

Additionally, I conducted archival research at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, where I was able to study and digitize personal presidential papers and congressional correspondences pertaining to the work of Federal Reserve chairman, William McChesney Martin. My experience at the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library was particularly worthwhile because I was able to practice research in an unfamiliar manner. Rather than working online or going to my local library, I was granted the opportunity to analyze primary sources in a first-hand manner.

My mentorship has been greatly rewarding, as I have learned not only about the Federal Reserve’s role in regulating monetary supply and its importance as an independent central bank, but also how to conduct research under the scope of a legal studies oriented approach. As someone who hopes to conduct business research in the future, I know this experience will be incredibly valuable. My work this summer has enhanced my understanding of fundamental economic concepts and made me more aware of the ways in which the private financial sector and public sector work within the Federal Reserve.