The revelation in the early 1990s that the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) had privately maintained policy meeting transcripts for years created a substantial political challenge for the Federal Reserve. But it also opened the door to a new era of policy transparency that would have been unimaginable through much of the Fed’s history.
By Tim Todd

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Author's Note

Much of this paper relates to FOMC deliberations occurring over a 14-month span starting in fall 1993 and continuing through early 1995. The focus is on issues related to policy communication, disclosure and transparency. It does not, however, detail all of the nuances associated with some of these issues. For example, this paper does not recount in detail deliberations focused on specific wording of press releases or debate about the types of information that would be redacted from the public transcripts – all issues that received considerable discussion from the FOMC. Additionally, the Fed over this period was faced with a number of other matters well beyond the public disclosure issue, including a Clinton administration proposal to consolidate banking regulation under a single entity, an effort by the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to address lending discrimination, and an emerging Mexican peso crisis. These events receive only a passing, if any, mention in the paper. For the Fed, however, all of these issues, along with the usual monetary policy deliberations, demanded significant attention.