Restraining Inflation Has not Traditionally Been a Central Bank’s Only Task18th June 2019
An otherwise useful NYT article on the ending of Mario Draghi’s tenure as the president of the European Central Bank (ECB) included the bizarre assertion that restraining inflation is “traditionally a central bank’s only task.” This is not at all true, as central banks around the world have often acted to increase employment and maintain financial stability. In fact, the Federal Reserve Board quite explicitly has a dual mandate for price stability and high employment.
The piece is correct in asserting that the ECB charter makes price stability the bank’s only goal, but the ECB is an outlier in this respect. It also is worth remembering that the ECB is a relatively new institution, just coming into existence in 1998, so it was not long able to stick to the single goal of price stability laid out in its charter. (In one of the great absurd moments in history Jean Claude Trichet, Draghi’s predecessor, praised himself at his retirement event for keeping inflation under the ECB’s 2.0 percent target. At the time, the euro was on the edge of collapse, with Greece, Italy, and Spain on the verge of being forced out of the euro.)
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