Transcripts of the monetary policymaking body of the Federal Reserve from 2002–2008.

Let me just say a couple of things. I think Rick’s point about education is right. You can make a statement educating people about the virtues of price stability and anchoring long-term inflation expectations and the reason that’s important, without taking on the challenge of educating people today about alternative ways of achieving that objective. Our debate about inflation targeting and communications is really about means not ends; and my view about education on the latter issue about means is to avoid taking on the challenge of educating the public until we know where we want to go. Once we know where we want to go, we can figure out how best to create the broader public foundation to make that possible. I’m sure that we’ll have different views on that.

My second point is about past positions. This is easy for me because I don’t have past positions about these issues to echo or to repudiate in public. I would make a slightly different suggestion for the way to respond to those questions from, I think, Bill. You can refer people to your past positions without repeating them in substance and nuance. I don’t know what the Chairman and the Vice Chairman of the Board plan to do, but I expect that you won’t feel the need in public going forward to repeat your past positions on these issues. I suspect that you will refer people to your past positions without reminding them about what those were. That distinction is important, I think, because I don’t know how you get into repeating or summarizing your past position without inevitably getting into the broader set of choices that we’re going to be debating in the Committee.

One final point, and I think Don said this more eloquently than I can say it, which is that we all have an interest in having this discussion take place below the radar screen of public debate until, again, we have a better sense of where consensus is going to lie. The more we move it into the public debate, the more risk we face of all the concerns that Governor Kohn referred to.

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