This paper develops some implications of assigning the Federal Reserve the contradictory goals of keeping interest and unemployment rates from rising while at the same time expecting the Fed to control inflation. The resulting imbalance causes Fed officials to engage in the classical psychological defenses of denial, projection, and obfuscation. Prolonged defense of an unbalanced state may lead to protective postures with dysfunctional implications. Federal Reserve secrecy, self-censorship, illusions of unanimity, and perceptions of need for insulation from external threat all are protective postures that may cause the Fed to lose credibility and alienate its professional staff. This, in turn, may promote the cause of monetary reform. This paper distinguishes between radical and piecemeal monetary reform and indicates why the latter could succeed in garnering political support. Copyright 1991 Western Economic Association International.
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