The Fed signed five major swap arrangements with allied central banks that totaled more than $580 billion in 2008, whereas the People’s Bank of China signed more than 30 bilateral currency swap agreements valued at $490 billion in year 2017.
Despite quantitative easing and 3 years of more synchronised developed economy growth, it is not clear that inflation has really got any traction. Technology, globalisation, unemployment and changes in working practices have all contributed to the lack of inflationary pressures and still do.
There’s a new monetary theory doing the rounds here which claims to be revolutionary: the Modern Monetary Theory (MMT. Not to be confused with the Market Monetary Theory). I agree with some of its points. But when some of its supporters say the state deficit and debt are not important – that they don’t have damaging consequences – the theory becomes a huge deliberate fallacy.
I believe central banks don’t control long-term rates – which are decisive for investment – and that they can influence them in what we would call normal circumstances, namely when GDP is expanding and inflation is at its optimum level. The central bank trys to control the private market’s expectations, but it doesn’t always succeed.
Francesco Saraceno | Munchau recently argued that central banks’ choices are increasingly political in nature, especially if their mandate is broad, as is the case for example of the Fed. His argument is that a broad mandate implies tradeoffs, and as such it does not go well with central bank independence.
The last meetings of the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England have fuelled sharp moves in the major currencies. The euro has extended its year highs against the dollar (it’s over 1,08 against the greenback) and on Thursday it appreciated over 1.3% against the pound (the exchange rate is at 0,86). Is near a new “currency war”?
Of all the arguments I have heard against monetary normalisation, I would definitely highlight the potential destablising effect which it could have on some financial markets. And I am not emphasising this in a positive way: I sincerely believe that delaying a decision which can help reduce uncertainty in the medium and long-term to avoid a negative impact (which I think will be limited) in the short-term is, without any doubt, questionable.
J. L. M. Campuzano (Spanish Banking Association) | Debt is essential for growth. And in fact, the Big Recession, which was sparked by the US subprime crisis, lies in the high level of debt generated during the previous decade known as the Great Moderation. So just as periods of expansion are favourable for building up debt, this has to be adjusted during periods of recession (and depression).
Central bankers deserve praise for salvaging the economy when it was navegating rough waters. The massive liquidity glut they provided undoubtedly saved the day. Yet this funding bonanza seems unable to boost growth. We know that money doesn’t necessarily bring happiness. But now we discover, much to our dismay, that neither does it guarantee a full- steam recovery.
J.L.M. Campuzano (Spanish Banking Association) | You will agree that the messages we are getting from the main central banks fuel more distrust than certainty. The scenario is complex. And part of this complexity comes precisely from the current uncertainty which translates into a greater correlation between the financial markets and assets at a global level.