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.
Michael Burda, 17 May 2012
Manmohan Singh, Peter Stella, 07 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.
Joshua Aizenman, Kenta Inoue, 19 March 2012
The patterns of gold holding remain a debatable topic at times when the relative price of gold has appreciated while the global economy has experienced recessionary effects. This column studies the curious patterns of gold holding and trading by central banks from 1979 to 2010. It suggests that a central bank’s gold position signals economic might, and gold retains the stature of a ‘safe haven’ asset at times of global turbulence.
Willem Buiter, 16 January 2012
The global crisis inaugurated a new era for central banks in the advanced economies, when their conventional role as interest rate-setters and lenders and market makers of last resort expanded. Central banks have become the custodians of stability for financial markets – a role for which they lack both democratic accountability and political legitimacy, argues Willem Buiter in DP8780. He decries the new “perverse division of labour” between central banks and fiscal authorities and appeals for a reassessment of this pathological arrangement.
Kateřina Šmídková, Jan Zapal, Roman Horváth, 13 November 2011
Does the publishing of voting records improve the transparency of monetary policy? This column argues voting records indeed contain informative power about future monetary policy but only if there is sufficient independence in voting across board members and if the signals about the optimal policy rate are noisy.
Marcus Miller, John Driffill, 27 September 2011
Just what on earth is going on in the global economy? Rather than get caught up in the hysteria, this column says the answers are best found by looking through the pages of history and dusting down some old textbooks.
Mark Mink, 31 August 2011
While central bank liquidity support is used on a large scale to combat the instability of the banking sector, this column argues that the prospect of receiving such support might well have been one of the causes of the instability. In particular, it shows that the provision of liquidity support stimulates banks to engage in various forms of risk-taking, and to do so in a procyclical way.
Clemens Jobst, 19 July 2011
The debate over TARGET balances and whether there is an ongoing stealth bailout in the Eurozone has attracted attention from top economists and journalists in the past month. This column argues that the reason why the arguments keep dragging on is the lack of a clear framework for the discussion, something this column aims to provide.
Axel Leijonhufvud, 25 January 2011
The shell game is a roadside con as old as civilisation. This column argues that the same swindle is being performed on a massive scale at the expense of the unsuspecting taxpayer. It says that, with their near zero interest rates, central banks are effectively subsidising the banking sector – with barely a pea passed on to the public.
Max Bruche, Javier Suarez, 07 January 2011
During the global crisis central banks have undertaken unconventional measures that some commentators claim go beyond their mandate. This column focuses on central banks intervening in the money markets as a middle man. It argues that such actions can be welfare improving, but are unlikely to be fiscally neutral, thus raising questions about whether they should be left to a central bank.
John H Cochrane, 07 December 2010
Last month, the US Federal Reserve announced a new quantitative easing programme, in which it will inject money into the economy by buying up to $600 billion in long-term government bonds. This column argues that now is not the time to be buying back long-term debt. Given exceptionally low long-term rates, the US government should be issuing it instead.
Lucia Dalla Pellegrina, Donato Masciandaro, Rosaria Vega Pansini, 12 September 2010
The global crisis has led policymakers in the EU and the US to broaden their central banks' mandates to include greater banking supervision. This column argues that this new responsibility should be seen as an evolution of the central bank specialisation as a monetary agent rather than a reversal of the specialisation trend.
Stephen Cecchetti, Benjamin H Cohen, 20 August 2010
The extent of the damage from the global crisis has forced policymakers to rethink how they regulate finance. This column first examines the long-term impact of stronger capital and liquidity requirements and then estimates the transitional economic impact as the new standards are phased in. It argues that, while such reforms may come at a short-term cost, the benefits of a stronger and healthier financial system will be around for years to come.
Francesco Giavazzi, Alberto Giovannini, 19 July 2010
Should the crisis spur central banks to change how they conduct monetary policy? This column argues that strict inflation targeting, which ignores financial fragility, can produce interest rates that push the economy into a “low-interest-rate trap” and increase the likelihood of a financial crisis.
Enrico Perotti, 05 July 2010
This column argues that government measures to restore confidence in the financial system have achieved a “pause in the panic”, but this is not enough. Governments still need to reverse the dramatic slide of the financial system towards unstable funding – a trend that holds a gun to the heads of governments and central banks.
Hans Gersbach, 01 February 2010
Should monetary policy and banking regulation be conducted by separate bodies? This column proposes a new policy framework whereby the central bank chooses short-term interest rates and the aggregate equity ratio while banking regulation and supervision, including the determination of bank-specific capital requirements, would be left to separate bank-regulatory authorities.
Pierre-Olivier Weill, Guillaume Rocheteau, Ricardo Lagos, 16 December 2009
Following the last run on a British bank over 130 years ago, Walter Bagehot argued that central banks should act as a lender of last resort. While such policies have been followed by central banks in today’s crisis, this column updates the recommendation by suggesting central banks should also act as a “liquidity provider of last resort”.
Sylvester Eijffinger, 24 October 2009
Governments are restructuring their financial supervision systems. This column warns that the proposed new structure for European financial supervision is poorly coordinated and will not help in a systemic crisis. It discusses how the ECB might coordinate macro-prudential supervision in the euro area.
Luis I. Jácome H., 20 October 2009
Latin American central banks seem to have weathered the global crisis quite well. This column describes their policy responses and says they succeeded in lowering inflation, averting banking crises, and shortening the recession. It attributes their success to past reforms that created strong institutional foundations and effective policy frameworks.
Raphael Auer, Sébastien Kraenzlin, 14 October 2009
The world’s major central banks used underpublicised swap agreement to address mismatches in their currency-specific liquidity needs during the crisis. This column says these measures where highly effective and came at a very low cost.