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
To cut or not to cut, that is the (central banks') question: In search of neutral interest rates in Latin America
Nicolas Magud, Evridiki Tsounta, 16 January 2013
The ‘neutral’ rate is the real interest that is consistent with stable inflation and narrow output gaps. This column discusses the various estimation techniques and presents estimates for a range of Latin American nations. No methodology is fully correct: central banks must still make a subjective judgement, but econometrics can significantly help to inform it.
An increasing number of Latin American countries have been strengthening their monetary policy frameworks, using the monetary policy rate as their main instrument since the late 1990s.
Topics: Institutions and economics, Macroeconomic policy, Microeconomic regulation
Tags: Central Banks, Information, interest rates
True independence for the ECB: Triggering power - no more, no less
Markus K Brunnermeier, Hans Gersbach, 20 December 2012
As governments and the EU wring their hands over banking reform, a fragile system remains in place. This column argues that the ECB’s current role undermines its independence. What the Eurozone needs to reduce undue forbearance - while preserving the ECB's independence - is a ‘diarchy’ in which both a newly built Restructuring Authority and the ECB have the power to trigger bank-restructuring.
Governments are hesitating over how to resolve the financial distress of banks, leaving fragile banking structures in place. This problem is particularly pressing in the Eurozone; governments expect the ECB to continue providing cheap funding, undermining the bank’s independence.
Topics: EU institutions, Europe's nations and regions
Tags: banking regulation, banking union, Central Banks, ECB, Eurozone crisis
Monetary policy in Latin America: Where are we going?
Christian Daude, 10 December 2012
Latin American central banks are facing new challenges in the form of unprecedented levels of uncertainty and exchange rate appreciation pressures. This column, focusing on Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru and Mexico, argues that there is an overestimation of the potential output in several Latin American economies, a lack of an explicit policy direction from central banks, and lacklustre frameworks for macroprudential policy. Although inflation targeting has served countries in Latin America well, significant risks remain.
Inflation targeting has served countries in Latin America well . They have achieved macroeconomic stability by reducing inflation and the pass-through of external shocks such as oil price and exchange rate fluctuations (cf. Mishkin and Schmidt-Hebbel 2007).
Topics: Macroeconomic policy, Monetary policy
Tags: Brazil, Central Banks, Chile, Colombia, foreign exchange, inflation targeting, Latin America, Mexico, Peru
Using changes in auction maturity sectors to help identify the impact of QE on gilt yields
Ryan Banerjee, Sebastiano Daros, David Latto, Nick McLaren, 20 August 2012
A central banker's toolkit these days must include a way of estimating the effect of quantitative easing purchases on government bond yields. With markets savvier than ever in anticipating quantitative easing purchases, estimating the effect has become more difficult. This column by four Bank of England economists introduces a novel empirical approach.
The policy decisions of several of the world’s largest central banks turn on a tricky empirical judgement – the effect of quantitative easing purchases on government bond yields. In the UK, the empirics have got much harder.
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: Central Banks, quantitative easing
The case for ‘deficit monetisation’ and greater cooperation between central banks and ministries of finance
Richard Wood, 18 August 2012
Central banks are running out of conventional tools, and the effectiveness of unconventional ones like QE are being questioned. More radical solutions are being considered. This column sets out the case for monetisation of budget deficits.
The Financial Times editorial (12 April 2012, under the heading ‘Waiting for Growth’) pointed to the widespread disappointment with policies of ‘quantitative easing’ (QE). These policies have now been applied in the US, Japan, the UK, and in the Eurozone without substantial evidentiary success on an ongoing basis.
Topics: Monetary policy
Tags: Central Banks, monetisation of budget deficits, quantitative easing
The (other) deleveraging: What economists need to know about the modern money creation process
Manmohan Singh, Peter Stella, 2 July 2012
The world of credit creation has shifted over recent years. This column argues this shift is more profound than is commonly understood. It describes the private credit creation process, explains how the ‘money multiplier’ depends upon inter-bank trust, and discusses the implications for monetary policy.
One of the financial system’s chief roles is to provide credit for worthy investments. Some very deep changes are happening to this system – changes that surprisingly few people are aware of.
Topics: Macroeconomic policy
Tags: Central Banks, monetary policy, money multiplier, Pledged collateral, private money creation, re-pledging
Hume on hold?
Michael Burda, 17 May 2012
The EZ crisis reveals critical flaws in the Eurozone’s design. This column argues that failing to abolish national central banks left the door open for national interests to interfere with the natural workings of the financial system and Hume’s adjustment mechanism. This flaw – and the omission of a European Banking Authority with real teeth – will come back to haunt Europe in the months and years to come.
The great Scottish philosopher and economist David Hume understood all too well how national boundaries and balance-of-payment statistics affect and even determine flows of international trade. Where national boundaries exist, customs offices and government bureaucracies assiduously monitor the flow of goods and assets between countries.
Topics: EU institutions, International finance
Tags: balance of payments, Central Banks, David Hume
Central Bank reserve creation in the era of negative money multipliers
Manmohan Singh, Peter Stella, 7 May 2012
Are central banks printing vast quantities of money? This column explains how money-multiplier economics (central banks create reserves that allow commercial banks to create money) no longer holds. Today, non-bank financial institutions play a pivotal role in money/liquidity creation, but hold no reserves. Their lending depends on “private reserves”, mainly highly liquid government securities. Creating more ‘public’ reserves by buying such ‘private’ reserves doesn’t trigger money creation – it just substitutes among reserve types. Open-market purchases only create money if they swap a monetary base for assets that are no longer accepted at full value as collateral in the market.
The phenomenal increase in bank reserves that has resulted from central bank responses to the current financial crisis has led to considerable anxiety regarding a potentially explosive and uncontrollable future increase in inflation.
Topics: Macroeconomic policy
Tags: Central Banks, monetary policy, money multiplier, reserves