The Economics Department will be offering a new course titled “Central Banking: Theory and Policy” (Econ 173a) The objective of this course is to provide an understanding of the purposes and functions of central banks and the challenges they confront.  For the past 100 years, and in some cases longer, most countries have looked to central banks to protect their financial systems and moderate fluctuations in prices and output.  As the recent financial crisis highlights, the record of central banks in this regard has been mixed. The course looks at questions such as: What is a central bank?  What is it trying to do and how does it do it?  How have central banks’ activities changed over time – and why? Are central banks really necessary? This course will devote considerable attention to the roles of central banks’ in the recent financial crisis and to current debates over the policies that central banks are following in its aftermath. The course will consider the degree to which the crisis has changed thinking regarding central banks’ responsibilities and capabilities.  This course is writing intensive [wi] and a large part of the evaluation is based on 10 short essay assignments. The course is taught by Dr. Lynn Browne.

Lynn Browne is an economist specializing in monetary policy and regulatory matters, as well as regional economic development. Until May 2011, Dr. Browne was Executive Vice President and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, part of the nation’s central bank. As Executive Vice President, she was responsible for the Bank’s regional and community outreach, public information, and employee communications.

Dr. Browne joined the Bank in 1975 as an economist specializing in issues affecting New England. Over the years, she assumed increasing management responsibilities while continuing to produce research on such topics as the reinvention of the New England economy, the banking and real estate crisis of the early 1990s, and the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s. Dr. Browne was the Bank’s Director of Research from 1993 to 2001 and oversaw the Bank’s scholarly research and monetary policy analysis. Dr. Browne led a number of special projects in recent years, including the Bank’s efforts to prevent foreclosures and an interdisciplinary research and outreach effort to revitalize one of the region’s former manufacturing centers.

Dr. Browne is currently working on energy-related issues and on her website (, which examines the implications of the decline in U.S. manufacturing employment.

Dr. Browne earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Western Ontario (Canada) and received her doctorate in economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

We welcome her as the newest addition to the Economics Department!


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