Ron Paul’s Federal Reserve Audit: Why Not Mandate Data Disclosure in XBRL?

by on August 31, 2009 · 7 comments

Libertarian folk-hero Rep. Ron Paul has apparently convinced (WSJ) House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank to implement his proposal (HR 1207) for an audit of the Federal Reserve by the end of 2010. Paul’s Bill would expand existing audits considerably because, under current law, the Government Accountability Office,

can’t review most of the Fed’s monetary policy actions or decisions, including discount window lending (direct loans to financial institutions), open-market operations and any other transactions made under the direction of the Federal Open Market Committee. It also can’t look into the Fed’s transactions with foreign governments, foreign central banks and other international financing organizations…

While the bill only seeks a one-time audit, [Paul] said he wants the Fed to be audited at least annually with the report — and details of its transactions — disclosed publicly.

I’d like to up the ante: Let’s make sure that any data disclosures are made in eXtensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL), as Mark Cuban and our own Jim Harper have previously suggested. Such machine-readable disclosures would be much more useful, because the data could be analyzed or “mashed-up” with other data sets to answer questions we might not even be able to formulate today.

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