In his memoir "Six Crises," Nixon wrote that in March 1960 Burns, then a campaign adviser, called to warn about an economic slowdown before the November election and to advocate increased defense spending to counter this.
Nixon never stopped treating Burns as a political asset.
Nixon aide John Ehrlichman, in his memoir "Witness to Power," described an Oct. 23, 1969, meeting between Nixon and Burns shortly after Burns' nomination as Fed chairman. Nixon said:
"Arthur, I want you to come over and see me privately anytime . . . I know there's the myth of the autonomous Fed . . .' Nixon barked a quick laugh. '. . . and when you go up for confirmation some senator may ask you about your friendship with the president.
"Appearances are going to be important, so you can call Ehrlichman to get messages to me, and he'll call you.'"
According to Abrams, a University of Delaware economics professor, Oval Office tapes and monetary data suggest that Nixon "demanded and Arthur Burns supplied an expansionary monetary policy and a growing economy in the run-up to the 1972 election." Nixon carried 49 states.
There is no reason to doubt Yellen's intellectual integrity; there is reason to wonder where she thinks the autonomous Fed now fits in the government.
The Fed seems to be evolving into a central economic planner with a roving commission to right social wrongs such as unemployment.
About this Yellen talks with a humane passion that speaks well of her but is more suited to a political official.
There is considerable congruence between Yellen's economic theories and the policy preferences of the Democratic liberals who secured her nomination.
They probably favor quantitative easing forever, and consider themselves her constituents. Is she prepared to disappoint them?
Will's email address is georgew...@washpost.com.