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Pierre Ortlieb — Central Banks and the Folk Tales of Money

Summary:
On the other hand, a number of central banks have taken the dangerous approach of simply tailoring their message based on their audience: when speaking to technical experts, say one thing, and when speaking to the public, say another. The janus-faced SNB is a case in point. This rhetorical duplicity is important as it allows central banks to both assuage popular concerns over the stability of money, by fostering the illusion that they maintain control over price stability and monetary conditions, while similarly soothing markets with the impression that they possess a nuanced and empirically accurate framework of how credit creation works. For both audiences, this produces a sense of institutional commitment which sustains both public and market trust in money under conditions of

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On the other hand, a number of central banks have taken the dangerous approach of simply tailoring their message based on their audience: when speaking to technical experts, say one thing, and when speaking to the public, say another. The janus-faced SNB is a case in point. This rhetorical duplicity is important as it allows central banks to both assuage popular concerns over the stability of money, by fostering the illusion that they maintain control over price stability and monetary conditions, while similarly soothing markets with the impression that they possess a nuanced and empirically accurate framework of how credit creation works. For both audiences, this produces a sense of institutional commitment which sustains both public and market trust in money under conditions of uncertainty.
Yet this newfound duplicity in central bank communications is perilous, and risks further undermining public trust in money should they not succeed in straddling this fine line. Continuing to play into folk theories of money as these drift further and further away from the reality of credit creation will inevitably have unsettling ramifications. For example, it might lead to the election of politicians keen to exploit and pressure central banks, or the production of crises in the form of bank runs.
Economic Questions
Central Banks and the Folk Tales of Money
Pierre Ortlieb
Mike Norman
Mike Norman is an economist and veteran trader whose career has spanned over 30 years on Wall Street. He is a former member and trader on the CME, NYMEX, COMEX and NYFE and he managed money for one of the largest hedge funds and ran a prop trading desk for Credit Suisse.

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