Should Central Banks Lean Against the Wind?

by Andreas Hoffmann

The pre-crisis Jackson Hole Consensus view on how to take asset market developments into account in monetary policy can be summarized as follows: Because it is hard to spot bubbles in asset markets with certainty ex-ante, central bankers should not lean against the wind when there seems to be a boom in financial markets (as long as the inflation rate does not pick up). However, as a rapid fall in asset prices can pull the real economy into the maelstrom of crisis, monetary policy should react decisively when a bubble bursts and “clean up the mess” to¬† prevent spillovers to the real economy.

Because there is empirical evidence that countries with greater credit and asset market booms in the 2000s experienced more severe financial crises in 2007-9, the pre-crisis consensus view has lost popularity. Policymakers and academics have started to think of ways to curb financial booms and lower the probability of crisis using macroprudential regulation or leaning-against-the-wind monetary policy. Continue reading

Estonia – The Return of a Baltic Tiger?

by Andreas Hoffmann*

The new member states of the EU were hit hard by the current crisis. Especially the former Baltic tigers (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) have seen a tremendous decline in GDP. While our economies face difficulties to cope with a decline of about five percent of the GDP, they lost 10 to 15 percent. In my opinion, Estonia is the most interesting of the three as it chose a distinct way to deal with the crisis. Continue reading