Finance and Economics Discussion Series (FEDS)
Let's close the gap: Revising teaching materials to reflect how the Federal Reserve implements monetary policy
Jane Ihrig and Scott Wolla
The topic of the Federal Reserve’s (the Fed’s) implementation of monetary policy has a significant presence in economics textbooks as well as standards and guidelines for economics instruction. This presence likely reflects the fact that it is the implementation framework that helps ensure that the Fed’s desired level of its policy interest rate is transmitted to financial markets, which helps it steer the economy toward the Congressional dual mandate of maximum employment and price stability. Over the past decade or so, the Fed has purposefully shifted the way it implements monetary policy to an environment with ample reserves in the banking system, and it has introduced new policy tools along the way. This paper shows that, unfortunately, many teaching resources are not in sync with the Fed’s current framework. We review six, 2020 or 2021 edition, principles of economics textbooks, and we find they vary greatly in their coverage of the concepts associated with the way the Fed implements policy today and in the longer run. We provide recommendations on how the authors can improve the next editions of their textbooks. We also review standards and guidelines used by secondaryschool educators. All of these are out of date, and we provide proposals for how these materials can be updated.
Accessible materials (.zip)
Keywords: Federal Reserve, monetary policy, economic education, introductory economics, macroeconomics
PDF: Full Paper
Disclaimer: The economic research that is linked from this page represents the views of the authors and does not indicate concurrence either by other members of the Board's staff or by the Board of Governors. The economic research and their conclusions are often preliminary and are circulated to stimulate discussion and critical comment. The Board values having a staff that conducts research on a wide range of economic topics and that explores a diverse array of perspectives on those topics. The resulting conversations in academia, the economic policy community, and the broader public are important to sharpening our collective thinking.