Posts Tagged ‘Federal Reserve’

Does Labour even have an opinion on monetary policy?

08/08/2013, 09:22:41 AM

by Jonathan Todd

This is a rare thing: some thoughts from a Labour perspective on the politics of monetary policy. Maybe it derives from reverence for the last government’s decision to make the Bank of England independent. Perhaps it comes from a slowness to appreciate how the George and Mervyn show has so smoothly transitioned to the George and Mark show. In any case, we do not hear enough from Labour on monetary policy.

Ed Miliband followed Stella Creasy is stressing the importance of having females on banknotes. While the symbolism of this is significant, it is only symbolism. As Carney was being pictured with Creasy and other campaigners, in the manner, according to Dan Hodges, of “three schoolgirls who have just won a Blue Peter competition to design a new bank note”, he was putting the finishing touches to an intervention of more than symbolic consequence.

That this heralded the age of the perpetual never-never – otherwise known as forward guidance or cheap money till the other side of the election – is also predictable. It has not come from the ether. It is what Carney did in Canada. Like all the most profitable, international consultants, he’s selling the same recommendations to a new client. As a variation on the framework adopted by the Federal Reserve at the end of last year, it is also of a piece with an emerging monetary consensus.

All of which sounds very elite and removed from the shop floor. Yet what could be more shop floor than worrying about how many people are on it? The rate of employment, in other words. By targeting the unemployment rate, Carney has created something akin to “the bank for the workers”, which I argued for at a Pragmatic Radicalism event at the start of this year.

All I was really doing at this event was cribbing the Fed’s idea. But, for some reason, there was something about targeting the unemployment rate that seemed apt for our party. The clue is in the name, as someone once said.

If the Fed is targeting the unemployment rate, wouldn’t you think both that this might be something the Labour party can call for and an idea whose time has come?


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