Full text: Referendum on the report of the Special Federal Reserve Committee

Functions of 
Central Banking 
Reserve Credit 
Proposals to 
Restrict Powers 
increase the Board’s influence. This again would tend to decrease the 
exercise of reasonable regional authority. If it be required that the 
cost to member banks of securing reserve credit be the same in all 
districts, each district directorate is in the position where it may 
have to subordinate local needs, even of an acute nature, to a more 
or less artificial national requirement. We believe that a policy favor- 
ing a single rate of rediscount as a principle of reserve system should 
be disapproved. 
The Committee recommends that: 
(a) In maintenance of the principle of regional autonomy, the 
Federal Reserve Board should avoid initiation of a change in a re- 
discount rate without conference with the directorate of the regional 
bank and full consideration of the resulting influence of its act upon 
the commerce and industry of the district. 
(b) A policy favoring a uniform rate of rediscount as a prin- 
ciple of reserve-system operation should be disapproved. 
Although the federal reserve system is not a central bank, its 
fundamental operations are in the field of central and not of ordinary 
banking. It is designed to supplement the credit distribution activi- 
ties of ordinary banks that deal directly with the public and depend 
upon profits. It is charged with the primary responsibility to which, 
if necessary, every other consideration should be subordinate, viz., 
the maintenance of the currency and credit structure firmly upon an 
adequate foundation of gold. In general, as a reserve or supplemen- 
tary credit institution, it must seek to exert a steadying influence upon 
the money market and upon the course of industry. 
Such an agency must be endowed with ample powers of credit 
and currency expansion and contraction. The successful discharge of 
these powers requires not only an experienced and politically in- 
dependent management but the absence of narrow, restrictive legal 
It is to be admitted that any over-use of the credit-granting and 
currency-issuing powers of the reserve system might result in seri- 
ous financial disturbance. A dollar of federal reserve credit estab- 
lishes the basis upon which more dollars of member bank credit 
may be built. An excessive expansion of reserve credit may have the 
result, therefore, of exaggerating any rapid increase in the volume 
of member bank credit and thus lead to inflationary conditions. Be- 
cause of this it is sometimes argued that restrictions should be placed 
in the Federal Reserve Act, beyond those now existing, to insure 
that the reserve banks are not provided with unduly large powers 
of credit and currency expansion at any given period of time. 
Among the proposals designed to restrict further the lending 
power of the reserve banks, are (a) permission to member banks to 
ceep 40 percent of their legal reserve and cash in their own vaults 
i Continued on page 14)

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