Sunday, July 12, 2009

A Must: How Theory Does Not Shape Policy (fg)

I just read an article about William White, former head of Monetary and Economics Department at the Bank for International Settlements. The article overwhelmingly describes the failures of the political decision-making body in central banks across the major industrialized countries.

Even the most influentiel economic department of the BIS, an institution sometimes called "the central bank for all central banks" did not manage that its clientiel, the major central banks, listen to its staff.

As far back as 2003, White implored central bankers to rethink their strategies, noting that instability in the financial markets had triggered inflation, the "villain" in the global economy. For that reason, most of the annual and quarterly reports, conferences as well as working papers have been dealing with the attempt to sensibilize national policy makers on the upcoming dangers. At the same time, White proposed to "lean against the wind" in case of market excesses and to re-think equitiy regulation: What he meant is that perceptions of value and risk develop in parallel. People suffer from a blindness to future dangers that is intrinsic to the system. The better the economy is doing, the higher the ratings issued by the rating agencies, the laxer the guidelines for approving credit, the easier it becomes to borrow money and the greater the willingness to assume risk.

You find the whole article here.

An overview of papers: