Karen Petrou: Senate Banking’s CBDC Questionnaire

2023-04-25T14:04:57-04:00January 10th, 2022|The Vault|

It’s certain that Jay Powell’s confirmation hearing will put him through the wringer on inflation, equality, “insider” trading, and the rules he’ll foster under the new vice chair for supervision.  This is enough to try even the most patient of souls, but there’s another issue senators should be sure to raise:  what’s taking the Fed so, so long to start its CBDC deliberations, let alone conclude them?

After initially dismissing the need for a U.S. central bank digital currency, Chairman Powell announced last May that the Board would seek public comment sometime that summer.  At about the same time, Gov. Brainard spoke about a possible CBDC construct and the Boston Fed announced a technical build-out project along with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Innovation Hub also has CBDC ambitions.  Although Fed officials were quick to point out that none of these nor any of the subsequent high-profile papers commits the Fed to anything, work seemed well under way to join the dozens of other central banks convinced that CBDC is essential in the quick-digitization payment future clearly emerging outside the reach of central bankers.

What’s happened since the summer CBDC storm?  Not much.

Mr. Powell and other Fed officials at one point promised that the CBDC paper would come in September, but autumn came and went.  The Fed’s certainly been busy tidying up after its “transitory” inflation goof and ongoing macroeconomic challenges, but it neglects CBDC at its and our peril.

First, whether …