The Federal Reserve’s Big Experiment

November 11, 2021

As the U.S. Federal Reserve and its chair, Jerome Powell, confront concerns over inflation and the impact of the Fed’s pandemic-era policies, we take a deep dive into the country’s central bank, which financial journalist Dion Rabouin calls “the most powerful and least understood institution in the country.”

James Jacoby, producer of the FRONTLINE documentary The Power of the Fed, and Rabouin, who was featured in the film, join FRONTLINE Executive Producer Raney Aronson-Rath for a conversation about how the Fed’s actions to avert crisis when COVID struck were the latest chapter in an experiment the Fed began after the 2008 crash — one that has dramatically changed the American economy. Jacoby and Rabouin explore criticisms that, while well-intentioned, the Fed’s efforts have contributed to wealth inequality and helped today’s financial world grow far removed from the real-world economy.

“The Federal Reserve has taken on a much more active role in trying to manage our economy, basically, since the financial crisis in 2008-2009,” Jacoby tells Aronson-Rath. “And then the experimental policies that they put into gear at that point really never left us. … it’s led to all sorts of unforeseen, unintended consequences that we’re all contending with now.”

The Power of the Fed is now streaming on FRONTLINE’s website, the PBS Video app and FRONTLINE’s YouTube channel.

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