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Policy Note 2013/8 | August 2013

“Unusual and Exigent”: How the Fed Can Jump-start the Real Economy

Though it is not widely understood, the Federal Reserve has enormous untapped power to directly stimulate or influence the flows of lending and spending that generate jobs. Doing so would fulfill the Fed’s often neglected “dual mandate”: to strive for maximum employment as well as stable money. Fed technocrats often plead that legal or technical barriers won’t allow them to do this, but their objections reflect an institutional bias that favors finance over industry, capital over labor. The central bank has abundant precedent from its own history for taking more direct actions to aid the economy. And it has ample legal authority to lend to all kinds of businesses that are not banks. 
 
This policy note was originally published, in slightly different form, as “Can the Federal Reserve Help Prevent a Second Recession?,” The Nation, November 26, 2012. Reprinted with permission. 

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