But Will's basic point about the Fed is not as ridiculous as it might seem. Will says:
The Fed's mission is to preserve the currency as a store of value by preventing inflation. ... The Fed should not try to produce this or that rate of economic growth or unemployment
My problem is with the use of the word "should." The more interesting question is whether the Fed can influence long-term economic growth or unemployment. Kydland and Prescott's model of credible commitment and central bank behavior (Journal of Political Economy 1977), which produced a Nobel prize in 2004, suggests that the Fed can only credibly commit to fighting inflation; that issues of time consistency prevent it from both fighting inflation and maximizing employment, and that if it commits to something other than zero inflation, it will produce socially undesirable levels of both inflation AND unemployment. This has spawned a literature on credible commitment on the part of central banks. And while I am not a macroeconomist (and won't play one on TV--when reporters ask me to forecast interest rates, I tell them to go away), my reading of the literature suggests that it is within the realm of possibility that Kydland and Prescott are correct.