Tags: White | banks | easy | money

OECD's White: Risk of Failure from Easy-Money Experiment Grows

By Michael Kling   |   Friday, 14 Jun 2013 08:06 AM

As central banks continue their enormous easy-money experiment, the risk of failure — including "wrenching corrections and deep economic dislocations" — has increased, warns William White, former deputy governor of the Bank of Canada and former head of the Monetary and Economic Department of the Bank for International Settlements.

The current experiment "appears to be one more step down a well-trodden path – a path that led to the crisis in the first place," writes White, now chairman of the Economic and Development Review Committee at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, in an article for Project Syndicate.

The extent of global ultra-easy-money is unprecedented, he notes. "Nothing like it has ever been seen before at the global level, not even in the depths of the Great Depression."

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Central banks have aggressively used easy money to counter financial crises and economic downturn for decades, and have been less aggressive in raising rates during money-tightening periods. So naturally, interest rates have moved ever downward.

Cycles of monetary easing may have lead to credit-driven "boom and bust" cycles, White explains.

"With leverage and speculation increasing on a cumulative basis," he writes, "this whole process was bound to end with monetary policy losing its effectiveness, and the economy suffering under the weight of imbalances (or 'headwinds') built up over the course of many years."

Since 2007, central banks policies have been simply "more of the same," White charges. "They have been directed toward increasing aggregate demand without any serious concern for the unintended longer-term consequences."

Easy-money policies, he notes, are slowing deleveraging, threatening the independence of central banks, raising asset prices to unsustainable levels and encouraging governments to resist needed policy changes.

Central banks have clearly and often said they are only buying time for governments. It's not clear if anyone is listening, he adds.

The recommendation for "outright monetary financing" entails financing larger government deficits by having central banks permanently increase in supply. However, that, he warns, risks higher inflation and more dangerous economic imbalances.

"The latest fashion in policy advice is essentially still more of the same," he laments.

"Sadly, a fundamental mainstream reassessment of how the economy works is by no means imminent. It should be."

Federal Reserve officials have expressed concerns about the central bank's easy-money policies, according Fed policy committee minutes, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Officials said they were worried about creating financial market instability and withdrawing from their bond-buying program. Some suggested tapering bond purchases before the labor market has substantially improved, as Fed officials have previously said they would wait for unemployment to reach 6.5 percent before stopping its bond-buying program.

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