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Learning from the World's Best Central Bankers: Principles and Policies for Subduing Inflation

Learning from the World's Best Central Bankers: Principles and Policies for Subduing Inflation

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Central bankers play a prominent role in many societies; a few of them even become oracles or celebrities. Yet they are not paid much heed -- commonly accorded little respect -- as educators and intellectual leaders. This volume hopes to change that. Forthe world's best central bankers, portrayed here, teach and lead impressively, doing so with insight, courage, quality, and conviction. They are commendable role models for those with high aspirations. The growing reputation of central bankers suggests that there is much to be learned from examining the ways in which they practice their profession. So the authors proceeded to ask what are arguably the world's seven best central bankers, from various countries throughout the world, for documentation on what they considered to be their finest achievements and how they went about gaining support for policies designed to maintain price stability. They obtained excellent cooperation from John Crow of Canada, Roberto Zahler of Chile, Alan Greenspan of the United States, Helmut Schlesinger of Germany, Markus Lusser of Switzerland, Donald Brash of New Zealand and Yasushi Mieno of Japan. They offer here a series of essays in which they present what central bankers have to say for themselves and the lessons theybelieve they can teach about monetary policy -- not what economists, politicians, or journalists like to say about them. Learning from gifted practitioners is common in many fields where personal skills and the quality of judgment and execution matter socritically. It is particularly important in fields such as central banking where gaining political support, maintaining independence, and establishing credibility often make the difference between success and failure. In this volume, we find a fascinating treatment of how the governors have tackled the hardest dilemmas of policy-making in their own specific political settings. We learn how the bankers themselves believe they have earned and preserved credibility and how they have maintained and expandedtheir base of support. We read, partly in their own words, how they have attempted to inspire trust and have secured and defended the independence of their institutions. We read how they have tried to cope with regulatory failures, unstable surges of capital flows, extremes in asset valuations, and financial crisis. Perhaps one of the most interesting lessons we learn is that central bankers must refuse to accept credit for fortuitous successes, like favorable supply shocks, lest they be blamed and lose credibility when things beyond their control go wrong. As Professor Malkiel concludes in his Foreword, the essays in this volume can be of enormous value to academic economists, students, and especially future leaders in banking, finance, and government service. No study of monetary theory and policy will want to miss this fascinating work where the world's most gifted central bankers speak so eloquently about their trade.