torsdag 2 juni 2011

Centralbankers klasskaraktär

Under 1990-talet svepte en våg av "centralbankism" över världen: en tankegång i anti-interventionistisk anda att centralbanker skulle styras av byråkrater, inte av politiker*.

Vad innebär detta då för centralbankernas klasskaraktär? Citigroup-ekonomen Willem Buiter kritiserade nyligen ensidigheten i centralbanker som USA:s Federal Reserve-system:
"This problem is most apparent in the regional Reserve Banks of the Federal Reserve System of the US. Like all 12 regional Reserve Banks, the Fed of New York has a nine-member, three-class non-executive board of directors. Three Class A members are elected by member banks to represent member banks. Currently the class A members are the Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, the President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of the Adirondack Trust Company, and the Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of JPMorgan Chase. Three Class B members are elected by member banks ‘to represent the public’ (as seen by the member banks). Two class B member positions are vacant; one of these vacant positions was until recently held by the CEO of General Electric Company, the other by the former Chairman and CEO of Pfizer. The third Class B Director position is held by the President and CEO of Loews Corporation. Finally, three Class C members are appointed by the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System to represent the public (as seen by the Board of Governors). Currently, these positions are held by the President of Columbia University, the President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, and the President of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It is clear that this is not a governance structure the Bank of England would want to emulate. Class A and Class B Directors run afoul of the necessity to avoid both the appearance and the substance of potential conflict of interest. Class C Directors are examples of ‘the Great and the Good’ who are at high risk of not contributing materially to good governance because of lack of relevant expertise."

Tracy Alloway, "Buiter bashes BoE accountability, and other central banks", FT Alphaville-bloggen 2 juni

*Se Sylvester C.W. Eijffinger och Jakob de Haan, "The Political Economy of Central Bank Independence" (pdf), Princeton University Dept of Economics Special Papers in International Economics No 19, maj 1996. Och Alex Cukierman, "Central bank independence and monetary policymaking institutions — Past, present and f", European Journal of Political Economy, 2008. Cukierman, "The central bank independence revolution", voxeu, 2007

Uppdatering 23 oktober 2011
"Economist Joe Stiglitz has long advocated that labor should be represented on the Fed’s interest rate setting Open Market Committee, and this raises a point given short shrift by the GAO: the most important type of diversity missing from the Fed isn’t ethnic, racial, or gender, it’s class."
Yves Smith, "Quelle Surprise! GAO Finds the Fed is a Club of Backscratching, Well Connected, White Bankers", Naked Capitalism 20 oktober

Uppdatering 7 februari 2012
"The ECB’s behavior should not be surprising: as we have seen elsewhere, institutions that are not democratically accountable tend to be captured by special interests. That was true before 2008; unfortunately for Europe – and for the global economy – the problem has not been adequately addressed since then."
Joseph Stiglitz, "Capturing the ECB", Project Syndicate 6 februari

Uppdatering 10 maj
Chris Giles är förvånansvärt kritisk mot avpolitiseringen av Bank of England i FT idag - jag trodde inte att någon annan än vänsterpartister kritiserade centralbankers "oberoende" idag.
"The traditional argument for central bank independence rests on preventing politicians from cutting interest rates before an election and stoking an unsustainable credit expansion. We don’t know what then-prime minister Gordon Brown would have done with the monetary policy lever, but it is difficult to make the case that elected politicians would have adopted a more irresponsible policy stance than the unelected officials at the BoE.

By contrast, it is simple to build a compelling counterfactual case that policy would have been better without BoE independence. Knowing the BoE dithered as the financial crisis started in 2007, Britain would have been quicker to spot the dangers, providing greater protection against the global crisis of confidence that occurred after the collapse of Lehman Brothers.
There is also no doubt the media, parliament and financial markets would have scrutinised ministers more carefully than central bankers in the period before the crisis.
With the benefit of hindsight, the first 15 years of BoE independence should be seen as a well-intentioned failure /.../"

Giles, "Bank independence was a well-intentioned failure", FT 10 maj

Uppdatering 28 juni 2012
Nick Rowe, "Does monetary policy have (bad) distributional consequences?", 5 juni Simon Johnson, "Three More Governance Questions for the Fed", Economix 28 juni

Uppdatering 11 januari 2013
Gillian Tett diskuterar i dagens FT ett nytt paper av Zoltan Pozsar, tidigare vid New York Fed, och Paul McCulley, tidigare vid Pimco, som diskuterar penningpolitiken i dagens läge och ifrågasätter centralbankernas politiska oberoende. Pozsar och McCulley gör en fyrfältare med offentliga sektorns leveraging (ökade utgifter) eller deleveraging (åtstramningspolitik) på x-axeln och privata sektorns dito på y-axeln, och konstaterar att många rika länder idag befinner sig i den ruta där privat sektor och offentlig sektor skär ner på sina utgifter samtidigt, vilket fördjupar recessionen.

Därför måste i en situation som denna, säger Pozsar och McCulley, penningpolitiken underordnas finansdepartementet och göras stimulerande parallellt med finanspolitiken. Tett:
"Pozsar and McCulley argue that in this fourth quadrant we need to embrace a mental flip. Instead of considering central bank independence to be a good thing, because it prevents inflation, central banks need to lose that independence, and work under finance ministries instead. Monetary policy and fiscal expansion must both be stimulative, since loose money alone will not work. Thus the central bank needs to monetise the public debt by buying lots of government bonds, say, or take other steps to co-ordinate fiscal and monetary measures.
Now a cynic might suggest that some Western central banks have already done this, by accident, if not design; the Fed has been gobbling up treasury bonds."
Gillian Tett, "Fed's mapmaker charts central bank rethink", FT 10 januari 2013.
Paul McCulley och Zoltan Pozsar, "Helicopter Money: Or How I Stopped Worrying and Love Fiscal-Monetary Cooperation" (pdf). GIC Global Society of Fellows.

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