Ralph Benko

House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling, after his introduction by Cato CATO -0.96% Institute vice president Mark Calabria at a panel of the 31st annual Cato Monetary Conference, had effusive praise for his host:

I do want to thank the Cato Institute for everything they stand for and everything they have meant to me. … I would like to tell you that the senior leadership of the House Financial Services Committee before we decide to move out on any particular issue we certainly glean the scholarship of Cato ….

Hensarling impressed a packed, and savvy, house with a thoroughgoing analysis of how federal regulators helped precipitate the late financial crisis. Hensarling went on to criticize the Federal Reserve’s role in the disaster, in particular pointedly noting its deviation from the Taylor Rule.

Mr. Hensarling proceeded briefly to present a litany of regulatory agency failures. This was a display of erudition about such matters that imply that iconic Sen. Phil Gramm has successfully mentored this rising star, Hensarling. Saying “we dream bold dreams in America,” the chairman announced an ambitious agenda for the House Financial Services Committee. Hensarling then extensively addressed questionable Fed regulatory practices.

He then delighted the audience by pivoting to a new, welcome, topic.


Last but not least, I would like to say … I think we all know … it is the hundredth anniversary of the creation and founding of the Federal Reserve. …

So I wish to tell you, and we will have a formal rollout in the month of December which is the true hundredth anniversary, that the House Financial Services Committee intends to reexamine all conventional wisdom dealing with the Federal Reserve without necessarily preordaining the conclusion. … So we had a hearing yesterday dealing with alternative models of different international central banks. …

And not the least of which is the entirety of their [the Fed's] hundred year history and what America has looked like since adopting a fiat currency.

The news that Chairman Hensarling would be turning his committee’s attention to these matters was startling and welcome. Hensarling chairs the House committee with jurisdiction over proposed legislation constituting a Commission now actively being encouraged by Cato: HR 1176, the Centennial Monetary Commission.

Ralph Benko

Ralph Benko, author of The Websters’ Dictionary: How to use the Web to transform the world. He serves as an advisor to and editor of the Lehrman Institute's thegoldstandardnow.org and senior advisor to the American Principles Project.