As doubts surrounding QE have grown, there has been a somewhat detectable if still small trend in central banker repentance. Alan Greenspan to an extent has embraced a more decentralized and market framework in his public comments even though he has yet, to my knowledge, actually repudiate his own work more directly. As noted a few days ago, former BoE governor Mervyn King has been far more open and alarming. While that may seem to indicate that monetarists only find free market “religion” once out of the drudgery of their professional office, I think Zhou Xiaochuan, head of the PBOC, performs the exception.
The direction the Chinese central bank has taken since late 2013 seems to confirm that idea more and more. Viewed as a repudiation of textbook monetary tactics and even basic justifications, the PBOC has become if not more “market” oriented at least drastically shifting priorities from the conventional, QE definitions of “growth at all costs” to something like managing that past mistake (as the PBOC took orthodox monetarism to new levels of insanity from 2009 through 2012). Last April, really at the outset of what China was about to do, Zhou issued a warning that looks to have been quite appropriate:
“If the central bank is not a part of the government, it is not efficient in coordinating policies to push forward reforms,” [Zhou] said.
“Our choice has its own rational reasons behind it. But this choice also has its costs. For example, whether we can efficiently cope with asset bubbles and inflation is questionable.”
That certainly seems to be a damning repudiation of the monetary illusion. Faith in the QE world is waning everywhere and with very good reason; it just doesn’t work in anything outside of dangerous financial imbalance and asset price inflation. Even Krugman appears to have wavered:
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