Outlook: Central bankers

SO WAS it worth waiting for? Yesterday saw publication of the European Central Bank's first monthly bulletin, a 92-page tome which will, according to the ECB, become one of its "most important means of written communication".

In theory, therefore, the bulletin ought to carry at least as much clout as the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report, essential reading for anyone active in the UK markets. In practice, the ECB bulletin is nothing of the kind. Yesterday's issue was a combination of public relations puffery and largely historic economic analysis. As a guide to either the ECB's view on recent economic developments or the likely level of future European interest rates, it was little short of useless.

This shouldn't come as much of a surprise, given the opposition of Wim Duisenberg, ECB president, to improving the transparency of European monetary policy. Mr Duisenberg has rejected calls for the ECB to follow the example of the US Fed and the Bank of England and publish the minutes of its meetings.

He also seems to have eschewed the established practice of using public speeches to signal changes in interest rate policy. Just days before December's co-ordinated cuts in European interest rates, for example, Mr Duisenberg was intimating to all and sundry that there was no immediate need for interest rates to fall.

As a result, financial markets now take everything the ECB president says with a large pinch of salt, including the assertion in yesterday's monthly bulletin that European interest rates are now at about the right levels.

One reason why Mr Duisenberg has chosen to shroud the ECB's decision- making process in secrecy is that this is the way things were always done at the German Bundesbank, a model independent central bank with an "inflation-busting" reputation superior even to that of the US Fed.

Certainly you cannot quarrel with the Bundesbank's record, so who are we to challenge its methods? Times change, however, and what may once have been appropriate for Germany hardly looks like doing the trick for Europe as a whole.

The Bundesbank could get away with not talking to the market for one reason, and one reason alone - its impressive track record. Bundesbank officials had a long history of keeping inflation under control and firmly resisting political pressure. The same is unlikely to be true of the ECB.

The short history of the ECB to date has been marred by political fudge, most visibly over Mr Duisenberg's own appointment as its president. If the ECB is ever to enjoy the same reputation as the Bundesbank, and if Mr Duisenberg is going to be able to soothe troubled markets as effectively as that doyen of central bankers, Alan Greenspan, transparency and communication have to be improved.

Life and Style
A teenager boy wakes up.
life
Arts and Entertainment
Critics say Kipling showed loathing for India's primitive villagers in The Jungle Book
filmChristopher Walken, Bill Murray, Scarlett Johanssen Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Benedict Cumberbatch, Cate Blanchett and Christian Bale
Life and Style
food + drink
Life and Style
Playing to win: for Tanith Carey, pictured with Lily, right, and Clio, even simple games had to have an educational purpose
lifeTanith Carey explains what made her take her foot off the gas
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
A still from Duncan Campbell's hour-long film 'It for Others'
Turner Prize 2014
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Tony Hadley in a scene from ‘Soul Boys Of The Western World’
musicSpandau Ballet are back together - on stage and screen
Arts and Entertainment
From left to right: Ed Stoppard as Brian Epstein, Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Elliott Cowan as George Martin in 'Cilla'
tvCilla review: A poignant ending to mini-series
News
i100
Life and Style
Bearing up: Sebastian Flyte with his teddy Aloysius in Brideshead Revisited
lifePhilippa Perry explains why a third of students take a bear to uni
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Alan Sugar appearing in a shot from Apprentice which was used in a Cassette Boy mashup
artsA judge will rule if pieces are funny enough to be classed as parodies
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Trust Accountant - Kent

NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

£18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

Law Costs

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) - Hertfordshire/Middlesex

£300 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer (Stored Procedures) Watford...

Day In a Page

Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?
Royal Ballet star dubbed 'Charlize Theron in pointe shoes' takes on Manon

Homegrown ballerina is on the rise

Royal Ballet star Melissa Hamilton is about to tackle the role of Manon
Education, eduction, education? Our growing fascination with what really goes on in school

Education, education, education

TV documentaries filmed in classrooms are now a genre in their own right
It’s reasonable to negotiate with the likes of Isis, so why don’t we do it and save lives?

It’s perfectly reasonable to negotiate with villains like Isis

So why don’t we do it and save some lives?
This man just ran a marathon in under 2 hours 3 minutes. Is a 2-hour race in sight?

Is a sub-2-hour race now within sight?

Dennis Kimetto breaks marathon record
We shall not be moved, say Stratford's single parents fighting eviction

Inside the E15 'occupation'

We shall not be moved, say Stratford single parents
Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Air strikes alone will fail to stop Isis

Talks between all touched by the crisis in Syria and Iraq can achieve as much as the Tornadoes, says Patrick Cockburn
Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

Nadhim Zahawi: From a refugee on welfare to the heart of No 10

The Tory MP speaks for the first time about the devastating effect of his father's bankruptcy
Witches: A history of misogyny

Witches: A history of misogyny

The sexist abuse that haunts modern life is nothing new: women have been 'trolled' in art for 500 years
Shona Rhimes interview: Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Meet the most powerful woman in US television

Writer and producer of shows like Grey's Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes now has her own evening of primetime TV – but she’s taking it in her stride
'Before They Pass Away': Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Endangered communities photographed 'like Kate Moss'

Jimmy Nelson travelled the world to photograph 35 threatened tribes in an unashamedly glamorous style