Why the monetary policy framework in advanced countries needs fundamental reform

Chris Sheridan, host of FS Insiders Podcast, recently interviewed William White about his most recent INET Working Paper. White reviewed the various shortcomings of the current framework; not least, how it has contributed to ever bigger credit bubbles and and ever higher stocks of both public and private debt. In spite of these developments, central banks showed no willingness to reassess either the framework itself or the set of false beliefs on which it rested. White expressed the hope that the conduct of monetary policy could be improved while maintaining the current institutional structure. However, he felt that it was also appropriate to assess seriously alternative and more radical options like the introduction of a “narrow money” regime. The widespread introduction of central bank digital currencies might facilitate such a change

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

Reflections on the 15th Anniversary of the Failure of Lehman Brothers

INET recently posted a short article by William White in which he stated that the failure of Lehman Brothers should not be treated as an isolated event. Its ultimate cause was a longer-term process through which a combination of monetary, regulatory and safety net policies were steadily increasing systemic risks and making significant financial crises almost inevitable.

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Era of shortages forcing rates up

MNI Market News posted on 3 March a podcast with William White, conducted by Greg Quinn of the Ottawa bureau. White listed a variety of reasons for expecting future aggregate supply to be constrained, and for future investment needs to strengthen. This implied a sustained need for higher real and nominal interest rates, raising fears of both financial instability and fiscal unsustainability. White suggested that fiscal restraint, directed primarily to reduce consumption, could aid in the battle against inflation and would also help ensure longer run fiscal sustainability.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

A number of inflationary forces will remain in place for a long time

An interview given by William White to Mark Dittli of “The Market” was posted on 23 February. Faced with secular forces likely to lead to a more inflationary future, central banks should raise nominal rates to allow real rates to adjust upwards. However, high levels of both private and public debt (encouraged by earlier monetary easing) imply that higher rates bring significant risks of financial  instability as well as the unsustainability of public finances. White suggests measures to help avoid these risks, but they imply pain for consumers. Political authorities might rather choose policies of “financial repression”. After World War II inflation rose, but interest rates were held down and the real burden of debtors  was reduced over a number of years at the expense of savers. In todays world, the political implications of such redistributive policies could be important.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

A conversation with a candid central banker

On December 15, William White had a “Deep Dive” discussion with Danielle Martino Booth on Hedgeye TV.  White suggested that central banks had used the wrong analytical framework to guide their monetary policy and that, as a result, the global economy suffered from many sources of instability – not least unexpected inflation. He added that a number of impending, negative supply shocks would worsen inflationary pressures over the medium term and make policy choices still more difficult. The discussion ended by reverting back to flawed analytical frameworks and efforts to make the economic curricula at universities more relevant to real world problems.

Posted by williamw in Interviews

Escaping the Debt Trap

William White and Joseph Wang (“Fed guy”) were recently interviewed by Jack Farley on Blockworks Macro. Both provided an assessment of the Fed’s recent policy moves and the balance of risks looking forward. White was particularly  concerned about a series of prospective, negative supply side shocks that would worsen all of the policy tradeoffs facing central banks. To complement monetary restraint, he suggested that governments in advanced economies should rely more on reducing consumption through fiscal measures. As well, better procedures to facilitate orderly debt restructuring would be required for an emerging “era of shortages”.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

Central bankers were warned about their failed policies

Alan Dunne of Top Traders Unplugged (TTU) interviewed William White on 21 October 2022. TTU is a long running podcast for investors, with more than 7 million downloads since inception. White spoke about what he perceived to be fundamental shortcomings in past monetary policy in the advanced market economies, and some of the attendant risks going forward. Recent events in the UK gilt edged market  underline the risk that future inflation control could be compromised by financial dominance or fiscal dominance or both. Anticipated negative supply side shocks will aggravate existing policy tensions.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

The unintended consequences of easy money

Jack Farley of Blockworks posted an interview with William White on 18 November. The interview focused on issues raised in a more technical paper White recently had posted on the INET website (see Publications). Ultra easy monetary policy is increasingly ineffective in stimulating aggregate demand and its negative side effects are becoming increasingly apparent. The discussion also touched upon the distributional implications of the current stance of monetary policy, and the likelihood that “financial repression” might be a solution to the current overhang of debt that has been generated by monetary policy.

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The world needs a restart of the financial order

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, William White gave an interview to Daniel Stelter, the host of “Beyond the Obvious”, one of Germany’s most popular financial podcasts. The discussion covered the reasons for the breakdown of the Bretton Woods system, the shortcomings of the Non-System that followed it, and proposals for a new system that would not be based on a nationally issued currency, like the US dollar. The discussion also covered currency issues within the euro zone, as well as “narrow money” solutions to both domestic and international problems.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press

The “debt trap” tightens

On 29 March, William White gave a wide ranging interview to Bastjan Usinech, a journalist at “Finance Manager”, the leading business magazine in Slovenia. The discussion focused on past macroeconomic policy mistakes leading to ever growing debt levels and an ever narrowing path leading to sustainable growth. Falling off that path could plausibly lead to either deflation or high inflation or even both in succession. White also expressed views on what central banks and fiscal authorities should be doing now, as we emerge from the covid pandemic. The pros and cons of more radical alternatives to conventional policies – like “narrow money” and a “debt jubilee” – were also considered.

Posted by williamw in Interviews, Press