James Tobin on Business Cycles

In 1994 the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston hosted a conference on monetary policy. Today it is mostly remembered for Debelle and Fischer’s paper on goal vs. instrument independence, but it has proved full of gems.

This was a time when the modern central bank was still emerging and so lacked today’s (somewhat diminished) aura of certainty and inevitability. New Zealand had made history five years earlier by giving their central bank independence, and it would not be for another three years that the UK would follow suit. Throughout the proceedings, traces of uncertainty at the incipient consensus are visible; these comments from Nobel Laureate James Tobin in particular.