Forward guidance in the UK
Spencer Dale, James Talbot, 13 September 2013
The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has recently provided some explicit forward guidance regarding the future conduct of monetary policy in the UK. This column by the Bank's Chief economist explains how the MPC designed its forward guidance to respond to the unprecedented challenges facing the UK economy and argues that forward guidance allows the MPC to explore the scope for economic expansion without putting price and financial stability at risk.
At its meeting on 1 August 2013, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) agreed to provide state-contingent forward guidance concerning the future conduct of monetary policy. The aim was to provide more information to help financial markets, households and businesses understand the conditions under which the current stance of monetary policy would be maintained.
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: Bank of England, Central Banks, forward guidance, monetary policy
International cooperation and central banks
Harold James, 8 October 2013
The global nature of the recent financial crisis required a coordinated response from central banks. After the fall of Lehman Brothers, several of them simultaneously reduced their policy rates, and the Fed extended dollar swap lines to its overseas counterparts. However, the second phase of the crisis has put increasing strain on international cooperation. This column presents two explanations. First, the Eurozone crisis threatens the solvency of governments, thus creating conflict over who will pay the costs of maintaining financial stability. Second, unconventional monetary policy has had spillover effects in developing countries.
Tackling the aftermath of a major financial crisis, the origins of which lie in ‘global imbalances’ and whose transmission mechanisms are cross-national, seems prima facie to demand more substantial and institutionalised cooperation. However, in the five years since the collapse of Lehman Brothers, visions of what central banks can and should do have changed profoundly.
Topics: Global crisis, International finance
Tags: Central Banks, Eurozone crisis, global crisis, global imbalances, monetary policy, policy coordination
Independent monetary policies, synchronised outcomes
Espen Henriksen, Finn Kydland, Roman Šustek, 2 October 2013
The monetary policy for Eurozone members is one-size-fits-all in an economic area rife with economic differences. Does this really make a difference? This column argues that even if each EZ member state had a fully independent monetary authority, monetary policies would likely still appear highly synchronised across EZ members.
The recession in the Eurozone has given new life to optimal-currency-area thinking. The argument goes that the disadvantages of a single currency come from the loss of flexibility and ability to use monetary policy to respond to “asymmetric shocks” (Krugman and Obstfeld 2009).
Topics: Exchange rates, Monetary policy
Tags: capital controls, Central Banks, EMU, exchange-rate policy, inflation, monetary policy
Should Brazil’s central bank be selling foreign reserves?
Márcio Garcia, 25 September 2013
The recent reversal of capital flows to emerging markets raises the question of whether and how to intervene in currency markets. Brazil’s central bank has intervened heavily, spending more than $50 billion and promising to double that by the end of the year. However, almost all of that intervention has taken place in onshore derivative markets that settle in real. This column argues that such interventions can be effective, but that central banks must stand ready to use their foreign-exchange reserves if necessary.
The US dollar’s rise in August and the Brazilian Central Bank’s (BCB) interventions in forex markets have started a debate about whether the BCB should keep on intervening as it has been doing, mostly via currency derivatives markets, or if it should also be selling its international reserves.
Topics: Exchange rates, International finance
Tags: Brazil, capital flows, Central Banks, derivatives, exchange rates
Enhancing the global financial safety net through central-bank cooperation
Edwin M. Truman, 10 September 2013
Should we expect more global financial crises? This column argues that we should. Global financial crises are far from being a thing of the past because they are often caused by buildups of excessive domestic and foreign debt. To successfully address them and to limit negative spillovers, we need coordinated actions that prevent a contraction in global liquidity. Unless we establish this more robust, coordinated global financial safety net centred on central banks (which is where the money is), we may end up being incapable of addressing inevitable future crises.
The prospect that the Federal Reserve will soon ease off on its purchases of long-term assets has increased financial-market uncertainty and contributed to a retrenchment in global capital flows. This turbulence has revived discussion of the need to enhance the global financial safety net –i.e.
Topics: Global crisis, International finance
Tags: banking, Central Banks, debt, liquidity
Political challenges of the macroprudential agenda
Jeffrey Chwieroth, Jon Danielsson, 6 September 2013
Central banks frequently lead the macroprudential policy implementation. The hope is that their credibility in conquering inflation might rub off on macroprudential policy. This column argues the opposite. The fuzziness of the macroprudential agenda and the interplay of political pressures may undermine monetary policy.
A key factor in conquering inflation in the 1980s was the doctrine of central-bank independence. Similarly, the success of the macroprudential agenda also has come to depend on an independent central bank with a credible commitment to implement politically unpopular measures.
Topics: Financial markets, Politics and economics
Tags: Central Banks, credibility, macroprudential
Redesigning the ECB with regional rather than national central banks
Michael Burda, 15 July 2013
Eurozone national central banks that take a national perspective risk politicising the ECB’s monetary policy. This column argues that this is a significant risk that should be overcome with a fundamental overhaul of the Eurosystem. A central element would be to take the ‘national’ out of the EZ’s national central banks. Just as US regional Fed banks encompass more than one US state, EZ ‘national’ central banks area of responsibility should be redrawn along economic geography lines rather than nation lines. An example of such a proposal is provided.
The monetary union was always a grand gamble. It established the ECB for an immense region that itself was not a state -- a trans-European institution with governmental duties that does not represent any government in particular.
Topics: EU institutions, Macroeconomic policy
Tags: Central Banks, ECB, monetary union
Integrating monetary policy and macroprudential regulation
Otaviano Canuto, Matheus Cavallari, 21 May 2013
The global financial crisis has shattered the confidence of many established principles of monetary policy and financial supervision. This column argues that the two should not remain separate, and maps out the major challenges faced by their complementary implementation.
If the global crisis – and the events that led up to it – have taught us anything, it is that there should be ‘no complacency with asset price booms’. We know first-hand the dire consequences of significant and widespread bubbles, so clearly monetary policymakers can no longer passively observe the evolution of asset prices.
Topics: Global crisis, Monetary policy
Tags: Central Banks
Misplaced concerns about central-bank independence
Marco Annunziata, 12 February 2013
Economists and policymakers are increasingly concerned that central-bank independence is being threatened. This column argues that central banks are not losing their independence, but that their room for manoeuvre is being eroded by a lack of structural reforms and fiscal adjustment. The financial crisis has caused mission creep, pushing central banks well beyond their comfort zones and as the time comes to pull back, independent monetary policy could still be powerless against fiscal dominance.
Concerns are rising that central-bank independence is at risk, already curtailed by governments eager to control all other levers of growth. The Japanese government’s none-too-subtle strong-arming of the Bank of Japan is one of the most blatant examples (e.g. King 2013).
But the current debate on the risks to central-bank independence misses the point.
Topics: Institutions and economics, Monetary policy
Tags: Central Banks, ECB, Fed, Federal Reserve, fiscal policy, independence
Bank capital requirements: Are they costly?
David Miles, 17 January 2013
There is a view that banks are using more equity capital – and relatively less debt – to finance the assets they hold, creating substantial costs so great as to make more capital unfeasible. This column argues that these costs are exaggerated, but that the benefits of having banks that are far more robust are likely to be large. The argument that equity capital is costly is more an admittance that banks cannot convince people to provide finance in the knowledge that their returns will inevitably share in the downside and the upside. Worryingly, it is as if banks cannot play by the same rules as other enterprises in a capitalist economy. After all, capitalists are supposed to use capital.
There exists a widespread view that having banks use more equity capital (and relatively less debt) to finance the assets they hold creates substantial costs, costs that may be so great as to make more capital infeasible. I believe that these costs are very substantially exaggerated.
Topics: Financial markets
Tags: banking, Central Banks, debt capital, equity capital