The mandarins of money

Discussion in 'Wall St. News' started by BoyBrutus, Aug 9, 2007.


    The mandarins of money
    Aug 9th 2007
    From The Economist print edition

    Central banks in the rich world no longer determine global monetary conditions

    EXACTLY 30 years ago, in August 1977, The Economist published an article by Alan Greenspan, the former chairman of America's Federal Reserve, who was then a private-sector economist. It listed five economic “don'ts”. One of these was: “Don't allow money-supply growth to spiral out of hand.” Yet that is exactly what central bankers have done in recent years. The bubble in credit markets that now seems to be bursting and the frothiness of so many asset prices was encouraged by loose monetary policies which pumped liquidity into financial markets.

    Many economists blame that excess liquidity on Mr Greenspan himself for keeping interest rates too low for too long when he headed the Fed. After the dotcom bubble burst in 2000-01, the Fed slashed short-term interest rates to 1% by 2003. The European Central Bank (ECB) and the Bank of Japan also cut rates to unusually low levels, pushing the average interest rate in the big rich economies to a record low. The real short-term interest rate is now above its long-term average for the first time since 2001, suggesting that global monetary policy is no longer loose. So why did financial markets remain exuberant for so long? One reason is that the world's two most important central banks, the Fed and the ECB, have not been the main sources of global monetary liquidity.