The further we get from 2008, when the American economy flirted with another Great Depression, the more people forget what happened and create stories that satisfy some political, ideological or journalistic urge. Among the biggest losers in this revisionism is the Federal Reserve. Although it helped save the economy from a deeper collapse, it is increasingly portrayed as the epicenter of an unspoken conspiracy to use government money to benefit Wall Street at everyone else’s expense.

If this view prevails — and it’s common among the tea party, the Occupy Wall Street movement, political figures on both left and right and some members of the media — we may all be losers. Congress created the Fed in 1913 to act as a lender of last resort for the nation’s banking system. The legislation stemmed from the Panic of 1907 when the absence of a lender of last resort aggravated a severe slump.

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