Thursday, June 04, 2009
Germany Blasts ‘Powers of the Fed’
Wall St Journal
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in a rare public rebuke of central banks, suggested the European Central Bank and its counterparts in the U.S. and Britain have gone too far in fighting the financial crisis and may be laying the groundwork for another financial blowup.
“I view with great skepticism the powers of the Fed, for example, and also how, within Europe, the Bank of England has carved out its own small line,” Ms. Merkel said in a speech in Berlin. “We must return together to an independent central-bank policy and to a policy of reason, otherwise we will be in exactly the same situation in 10 years’ time.”
Ms. Merkel also said the ECB “bowed somewhat to international pressure” when it said last month it plans to buy €60 billion ($85 billion) in corporate bonds — a move that is modest in comparison to asset-buying by its counterparts, the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England. Details are to be unveiled by the ECB’s president, Jean-Claude Trichet, Thursday.
The public criticism is unusual — and not only because German politicians rarely talk harshly about central banks in public. When politicians around the world do criticize their central banks, they almost always gripe that they are too tightfisted.
The conservative German leader’s comments came as Europe’s statistical agency reported that unemployment in the 16 countries that share the euro rose to 9.2% in April — the highest level since September 1999 and still below the 11.5% that the European Commission forecasts for 2010.
However, the economic straits of countries within the euro zone vary widely. Germany’s unemployment rate of 7.7%, for instance, contrasts with 18.8% in Spain, where a collapse in the construction industry that was driving the economy has pushed unemployment to the highest in the euro zone.