Mario Draghing the feet on monetary policy


Central Banks have been at the epicenter of the current crisis, and have been, for good and for bad, fundamental for the policy response mounted to avoid a new Great Depression. Recently Christina Romer argued that the Fed should start targeting nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) instead of inflation. As I noted previously (see here), this is strange since it is far from clear that the Fed actually targets just inflation, or that targeting nominal output would make any significant difference.

Further, the idea that a central bank has the ability to actually hit a targeted level of output, or inflation for that matter, under the current circumstances in particular, is wishful thinking. Central banks can ease the credit conditions by reducing interest rates, a range of rates from the short to the long, to stimulate spending, and pump money into the system, fundamentally to avoid systemic crisis caused by bankruptcies. The ability of Ben Bernanke or Mario Draghi, the newly appointed head of the European Central Bank (ECB) that reduced the rate of interest in Europe as his first measure (see here), to further reduce interest rates and with that help the staggering recovery in the US or the free fall in the periphery of Europe is very limited.

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