Failure at the Central Bank

Failure at the Central Bank

For the last six decades central bankers from the most developed countries have managed the global economy and have rarely broken into a sweat.

They have run the international financial system, suppressing inflation when needed and creating the stability necessary for our economies to flourish, with the aid of a powerful set of economic levers handed to them after the Second World War.

Last year these levers came off in their hands.

The central banking system has suffered a chronic power outage.

Robert Peston examines how those who were once the supermen of the global financial economy became seven stone weaklings.

Their power has failed because of once-in-a-generation combination of devastating factors: inflation is rising while growth is slowing, so any attempt to suppress incipient inflation risks tipping the economy into serious recession; they appear to have lost the ability to set market interest rates, their main tool against inflation, as a result of the credit crunch; their intellectual framework for promoting stability has been battered by their chronic failure to suppress the dangerous boom in property prices.

As if these difficulties aren't enough, the reputation these bankers once had for moral certainty has all but evaporated.

How can they now invite others less fortunate than themselves to follow economic models which have proved to be so wanting?

Central bankers from less developed countries are, very discretely, rubbing their hands in glee.

This is not just a crisis of management or systems. It is as much an intellectual failure as a practical one.