Available research does not support the view that the Federal Reserve System has lived up to its original promise. Early in its career, it presided over both the most severe inflation and the most severe (demand-induced) deflations in post-Civil War U.S. history. Since then, it has tended to err on the side of inflation, allowing the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar to deteriorate considerably. That deterioration has not been compensated for, to any substantial degree, by enhanced stability of real output. Although some early studies suggested otherwise, recent work suggests that there has been no substantial overall improvement in the volatility of real output since the end of World War II compared to before World War I. Although a genuine improvement did occur during the sub-period known as the―Great Moderation,‖ that improvement, besides having been temporary, appears to have been due mainly to factors other than improved monetary policy. Finally, the Fed cannot be credited with having reduced the frequency of banking panics or with having wielded its last-resort lending powers responsibly. In short, the Federal Reserve System, as presently constituted, is no more worthy of being regarded as the last word in monetary management than the National Currency System it replaced almost a century ago.
George Selgin, William D. Lastrape, and Lawrence H. White, “Has the Fed Been a Failure?”