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Central Banking’s Brave New World

Summary:
Leading central banks are now keen to take on responsibility for policy objectives they previously shied away from, such as reducing inequality and combating climate change. But explicitly amending the central banks’ missions would be preferable to letting monetary policymakers decide how their tasks should evolve. PARIS – Twenty years ago, central bankers were proudly narrow-minded and conservative. They made a virtue of caring more about inflation than about the average citizen, and took great pains to be obsessively repetitive. As future Bank of England (BOE) governor Mervyn King said in 2000, their ambition was to be boring. No Time to Waste PS OnPoint John

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Leading central banks are now keen to take on responsibility for policy objectives they previously shied away from, such as reducing inequality and combating climate change. But explicitly amending the central banks’ missions would be preferable to letting monetary policymakers decide how their tasks should evolve.

PARIS – Twenty years ago, central bankers were proudly narrow-minded and conservative. They made a virtue of caring more about inflation than about the average citizen, and took great pains to be obsessively repetitive. As future Bank of England (BOE) governor Mervyn King said in 2000, their ambition was to be boring.

The 2008 financial crisis abruptly dashed that objective. Ever since, central bankers have been busy developing new policy instruments to fight fires and ward off emerging threats. Nonetheless, many secretly dreamed of returning to the good old days of cautious conservatism (with financial stability taken seriously).

But recent announcements by the US Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank suggest that there is no going back. Central bankers are now keen to take on responsibility for policy objectives they previously shied away from – in particular, tackling inequality and climate change.

Start with inequality. If there was a red line in the delineation of responsibilities between elected and unelected officials, it was that distributional, give-and-take choices belonged solely to the former.

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