Where did this thing called the Fed come from? Murray Rothbard has the answer here -- in phenomenal detail that will make your head spin. In one extended essay, one that reads like a detective story, he has put together the most comprehensive and fascinating account based on a century's accumulation of scholarship.
The conclusion is that the Fed did not originate as a policy response to national need. It wasn't erected for any of its stated purposes. It was founded by two groups of elites: government officials and large financial and banking interests. Rothbard adds a third critical element: economists hired to give the scheme a scientific patina.
This excerpted chapter from Rothbard's History of Money and Banking is as scholarly as it is hair raising. This is one economic historian who fears not naming names and assigning blame.
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Austrian Economics, Freedom and Peace