At the end of last month, the Mighty Oz’s and Grand Panjandrums of central banking descended upon the rural splendours of Wyoming in order to engage in a very public display of navel gazing and to enact a ritual, group reinforcement of confirmation bias.
There, we heard much nonsense talked about low – even negative -‘natural interest rates’ and of the seeming impossibility of triggering an alchemically meaningful dose of price inflation with which to restore the balance of the humours in the global economy.
It was most timely, then, for the ever-mischievous BIS to publish a paper first presented last year by Charles Goodhart & Manoj Pradhan which challenged much of the received wisdom of our monetary overlords and which broadly affirmed arguments I, too, have long been offering against their approach.
Millennial pessimism being a common affliction of thinkers throughout the ages, we should perhaps not be too surprised that we moderns, too, are prone to stroll along in its strangely seductive shadowlands of the mind.
Having just managed to quell a dangerous rebellion among her fellow Committee members, it did not seem the most opportune time for Janet Yellen to start dreaming of the sort of post-war ‘demand management’ that would happily trade a few extra percentage points of price inflation in order to move a little further up the employment axis in that unshakable vision of the Phillips Curve that seems to dominate the modern central banker’s thought processes.
The craziness that is Abenomics seems to have one flimsy foundation: viz., that Japan’s fiscal situation seems so dire as not to be susceptible of a rational approach. Not that this is any real excuse for the political cowardice which attempts to disguise the problem through gross financial and monetary manipulation.