Central Banker Admits Faith In "Monetary Policy ‘Safeguard’" Leads To "Even Less Stable World"

While the idea of the interventionist suppression of short-term 'normal' volatility leading to extreme volatility scenarios is not new, hearing it explained so transparently by a current (and practicing) central banker is still somewhat shocking. As Buba's Jens Weidmann recent speech at Harvard attests, "The idea of monetary policy safeguarding stability on multiple fronts is alluring. But by giving in to that allure, we would likely end up in a world even less stable than before."

 

Excerpts from Jens Weidmann – Europe's Monetary Union

Harvard, 11/25/13 (Full speech here)

In the eyes of many politicians, economists, at least if they are central bankers, cannot have enough arms now – arms with which they are to pull all the levers to simultaneously deliver price stability, lower unemployment, supervise banks, deal with sovereign credit troubles, shape the yield curve, resolve balance sheet problems, and manage exchange rates.

 

It is probably safe to say that this change in attitude is not just due to a sudden surge in the popularity of economists and central bankers. Rather, it reflects the widespread view that central banking has come to be the only game in town. And quite a few economists seem to agree with this notion.

 

To some, the notion that the primary goal of central banks is to keep prices stable has become old-fashioned. Against the backdrop of the financial crisis, they argue that financial stability has become just as important, if not more so, than price stability.

 

 

By tearing down the walls between monetary, fiscal and financial policy, the freedom of central banks to achieve different ends will diminish rather than flourish. Put in economic terms: Monetary policy runs the risk of becoming subject to financial and fiscal dominance.

 

Let me explain these mechanisms a bit more in detail, starting with financial dominance.

 

The financial crisis has provided a vivid example of how financial instability can force the hand of monetary policy. When the burst of an asset bubble threatens a collapse of the financial system, the meltdown will in all likelihood have severe consequences for the real economy, with corresponding downside risks to price stability.

 

In that case, monetary policy is forced to mop up the damage after a bubble has burst. And, confronted with a financial system that is still in a fragile state, monetary policy might be reluctant to embrace policies that could aggravate financial instability.

 

 

Public debt and inflation are related on account of monetary policy's power to accommodate high levels of public debt. Thus, the higher public debt becomes, the greater the pressure that might be applied to monetary policy to respond accordingly.

 

Suddenly it might be fiscal policy that calls the shots – monetary policy no longer follows the objective of price stability but rather the concerns of fiscal policy. A state of fiscal dominance has been reached.

 

Technically, fiscal dominance refers to a regime where monetary policy ensures the solvency of the government. Practically, this could take the form of central banks buying government debt or keeping interest rates low for a longer period of time than it would be necessary to ensure price stability. Then, traditional roles are reversed: monetary policy stabilises real government debt while inflation is determined by the needs of fiscal policy.

 

 

A lender-of-last-resort role would violate this principle of self-responsibility – in that same way as Eurobonds in this setting are at odds with it. Therefore, it would aggravate, rather than alleviate, the problems besetting the euro area.

 

 

The idea of monetary policy safeguarding stability on multiple fronts is alluring. But by giving in to that allure, we would likely end up in a world even less stable than before. This holds true especially for the euro area, where a Eurosystem acting as a lender-of-last-resort role for governments would upend the delicate institutional balance.

 

To disentangle the euro area's fiscal and financial conundrums, we should practice the art of separation – especially with regard to the sovereign-bank doom loop. Or let me put it this way: Rather than for monetary policy to waltz with fiscal and financial policy, we need to erect walls between banks and sovereigns.

 

Of course, Taleb's somewhat seminal piece on vol suppression remains a concerning glimpse of the inevitable.

ForeignAffairs

    



[...]

Howard Marks: "Markets Are Riskier Than At Any Time Since The Depths Of The 2008/9 Crisis"

In Feb 2007, Oaktree Capital's Howard Marks wrote 'The Race to the Bottom', providing a timely warning about the capital market behavior that ultimately led to the mortgage meltdown of 2007 and the crisis of 2008 as he worried about "c… [...]

Japan Reacts to Fukushima Crisis By Banning Journalism

2 weeks after the Fukushima accident, we reported that the government responded to the nuclear accident by trying to raise acceptable radiation levels and pretending that radiation is good for us. We noted earlier this month: Japan will likely pass a n… [...]

NASDAQ 4000 But Last Minute Mini Meltdown Poops The Party

Another (like yesterday) late-day collapse in stocks was not enough to entirely ruin CNBC's headlines as the NASDAQ closed above 4,000 for the first time in 13 years. The only thing that could have made today better for the central planners was a r… [...]

DOJ Announces $13 Billion "Largest Ever" Settlement With JP Morgan

To the DOJ, a $13 billion receipt is the “largest ever settlement with a single entity.” To #AskJPM, a $13 billion outlay is a 100%+ IRR. And perhaps more relevant, let’s recall that JPM holds $550 billion in Fed excess reserves, on which it is paid 0…. [...]

The Biggest Disaster in SE Asia Waiting to Happen: Thailand’s Massive Real Estate Bubble

In 1997, the SE Asian Tigers all faced severe economic stresses, partially triggered by a primarily foreign capital-funded massive real estate bubble in Thailand. Today the EXACT same thing is happening as untempered foreign investment into Thailand’… [...]

The Financial Times Follows Up On Reggie Middleton’s Admonitions Of A Canadian Housing Bubble

Two months ago I answered the query, Is There A Bubble In The Canadian Condo Market? for my subscribers. The missive started off like this:  The Canadian condo market is running into a precarious over-supply… [...]

Frontrunning: November 13

Headline du jour: Granted ‘decisive’ role, Chinese markets decide to slide (Reuters) Desperate Philippine typhoon survivors loot, dig up water pipes (Reuters) Fading Japanese market momentum frustrates investors (FT) China’s meager aid to the Philippi… [...]

Guest Post: The Big Lie: Lunch (and Debt) Are Free

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog, Actions create consequences, and not necessarily the consequences that were planned or expected. A central tenet of propaganda is that the Big Lie repeated often enough is accepted with greater ease t… [...]

Guest Post: The Big Lie: Lunch (and Debt) Are Free

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog, Actions create consequences, and not necessarily the consequences that were planned or expected. A central tenet of propaganda is that the Big Lie repeated often enough is accepted with greater ease t… [...]