Barry Eichengreen (for Info only, not official)

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Barry Eichengreen

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    ...Bloomberg On 11 November 1997, the Bank of England took a big step toward independence, courtesy of the second reading in the House of Commons of a Bill amending the Bank Act of 1946. The Bill gave legislative affirmation to the decision, taken by then-chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown, to free central bank operations from governmental control. This was a landmark event for an institution that had been under the yoke of government for a half-century. It symbolized how the need for central bank independence had become conventional wisdom. Now, however, this wisdom is being questioned, and not just in the UK. So long as inflation was the real and present danger, it made sense to delegate monetary policy to conservative central bankers insulated from pressure to finance government budget deficits. Today, in contrast, the problem is the opposite, namely the inability of central banks to raise inflation to target levels. ...

    Live Mint on Nov. 22, 2017, 11:15 p.m.

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    ...With a dynamic new leader in one country and a fresh popular mandate in the other, there is now an opportunity for France and Germany to correct their creation’s worst flaws. But the two sides remain deeply divided. Macron, in long-standing French tradition, insists that the monetary union suffers from too little centralization. The eurozone, he argues, needs its own finance minister and its own parliament. It needs a budget in the hundreds of billions of euros to underwrite investment projects and augment spending in countries with high unemployment. Merkel, on the other hand, views the monetary union’s problem as one of too much centralization and too little national responsibility. She worries that a large eurozone budget wouldn’t be spent responsibly. ...

    Live Mint on Sept. 18, 2017, 11:55 p.m.

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    ...My own favourite quote is from Michael Gove, currently Britain’s environment secretary. Just prior to the June 2016 Brexit referendum, Gove, who was justice secretary in David Cameron’s government at the time, dismissed the all-but-unanimous view of economists and others that a decision to leave the European Union would deeply damage the British economy. “People in this country have had enough of experts,” Gove testily explained, referring to “experts from organizations with acronyms, saying they know what is best and getting it consistently wrong”. The early post-referendum evidence suggested, to the surprise of many—or at least to many of the experts—that Gove was right and they were wrong. There was in fact no immediate recession in the UK following the Brexit vote; indeed, there was not even a slowdown in growth. ...

    Live Mint on Aug. 15, 2017, 2:45 a.m.

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    ...The causes of the crisis were contested at the time, and they remain contested to this day. Western observers placed the blame on Asian countries’ lack of transparency and on overly close relations between firms and governments—what they described as “crony capitalism”. Asian commentators, for their part, blamed hedge funds for destabilizing regional financial markets and the International Monetary Fund for prescribing a course of treatment that nearly killed the patient. More From Livemint » There is some validity to both viewpoints. The Bank of Thailand’s published balance sheet wildly exaggerated its available foreign-exchange reserves—hardly a shining example of financial transparency. ...

    Live Mint on July 12, 2017, 2:30 a.m.

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    ...His budget proposes massive cuts in everything from early childhood education to food stamps and medical research. His tax reform plan, and especially its much lower top rate for “pass-through” business income, implies significant further redistribution of income to the wealthy. Most recently, his misguided decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement jeopardizes America’s global standing. Worse, it puts the health and welfare of the planet at risk. This is a good time to remember that the US is a federal system, not a unitary state with an all-powerful central government (think France). Its system is enshrined in the Tenth Amendment of the US Constitution, which stipulates that all powers not expressly assigned to the federal government are “reserved to the states”. ...

    Live Mint on June 19, 2017, 11:38 p.m.

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    ...It underpins the doctrine known as mercantilism, which comprises a hoary set of beliefs discredited more than two centuries ago. Mercantilism suggests, among other things, that Germany is the world’s strongest economy, because it has the largest current-account surplus. In 2016, Germany ran a current-account surplus of roughly €270 billion, or 8.6% of gross domestic product (GDP), making it an obvious target of Trump’s ire. And its bilateral trade surplus of $65 billion with the US presumably makes it an even more irresistible target. Never mind that as a member of the eurozone, Germany has no exchange rate to manipulate. Forget that Germany is relatively open to US exports, or that its policymakers are subject to the European Union’s (EU) anti-subsidy regulations. Ignore the fact that bilateral balances are irrelevant for welfare when countries run surpluses with some trade partners and deficits with others. ...

    Live Mint on May 14, 2017, 11:33 p.m.

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    ...Trump denounced China for “taking our jobs”, and “(stealing) hundreds of billions of dollars in our intellectual property”. He repeatedly accused China of manipulating its currency. The low point came last May, when Trump warned his followers: “We can’t continue to allow China to rape our country. That’s what they’re doing. It’s the greatest theft in the history of the world.” Given such inflammatory rhetoric, many people understandably felt considerable trepidation in the run-up to Trump’s summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate. It wasn’t hard to imagine a refused handshake or the presentation of a bill for payment, like the one Trump reportedly gave visiting German chancellor Angela Merkel (a report denied by the White House). Instead, Trump treated Xi with considerable deference. One explanation is that he was preoccupied by the impending US missile strike on Syria. ...

    Live Mint on April 17, 2017, 11:54 p.m.

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    ...Start with reform of personal income tax. This should be a slam-dunk, because the president and congressional Republican leaders are on the same page. Trump’s goal of removing the government’s groping hand from Americans’ pockets, by cutting the top marginal tax rate on ordinary income from 39.5% to 33%, is entirely consistent with mainstream Republican ideology, according to which high tax rates penalize success and stifle innovation. But, to be politically viable, significant tax cuts for the wealthy would have to be accompanied by at least token tax cuts for the middle class. And broad-based tax cuts would blow a hole in the budget and excite congressional deficit hawks, of whom there are still a few. One can imagine closing loopholes to render rate cuts revenue neutral. ...

    Live Mint on March 12, 2017, 11:30 p.m.