For nearly a century the Federal Reserve has operated in the shadows, away from the prying eyes of Congress, journalists and the American people. Created in 1913, the Fed was given enormous responsibility to protect the value of our currency. Yet in the last 96 years the U.S. dollar has lost more than 95% of its purchasing power. The Fed's unprecedented actions over the past year in attempting to stabilize the financial system have now forced it into the spotlight, and caused millions of people around the country to question the opacity of the Fed's financial transactions.
While the Fed is more transparent now than it was 20 or 30 years ago, there is still a long way to go. If the Fed were fully transparent, organizations such as Bloomberg and Fox News wouldn't have to sue its board of governors to receive materials that should be available through Freedom of Information Act requests. These include information on which banks and companies received loans and for what amounts after the 2008 financial meltdown.
One puzzling assertion made by the Fed and its supporters is that the Federal Reserve has some sort of independence from the government and independence in undertaking monetary policy. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Federal Reserve is a government-created banking monopoly, and its top decision makers are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. If they do not perform satisfactorily in the eyes of politicians, they will not be renominated.