William Hague: Central bankers have collectively lost the plot

Traders Gregory Rowe, left, and Joseph Lawler work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo / AP
Traders Gregory Rowe, left, and Joseph Lawler work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Photo / AP

William Hague, the former leader of the UK Conservative Party, has warned the policies of central banks are pumping up stock markets and house prices, threatening an "almighty crash".

In a column for the UK's Telegraph Hague said the accumulating effects of loose monetary policy globally was intensely political.

"When pension funds renege on promises, or inequality widens further, or savers become desperate, huge public and political anger is going to burst over the heads of the world's central banks," he wrote.

"The only way out is for the US Fed to summon the courage to lead the way to higher interest rates, and others to follow slowly but surely. If they fail to do so, the era of their much-vaunted independence will come, possibly quite dramatically, to its end."

In 2008 central banks had reacted to crisis by cutting rates to record lows and embarking on quantitative easing, pumping trillions of dollars into their economies, Hague wrote in his column in the Telegraph.

"The trouble is that eight years later they are, to varying degrees, still doing it.
Like doctors keeping their patients on a drip many years after an operation, they are losing credibility and producing very dangerous side effects."

Hague listed a number of drawbacks to this policy including savers finding it impossible to earn a worthwhile return, "which drives them into riskier assets thus causing the price of houses and shares to be inflated ever higher".

"Higher asset prices make people who own them much richer, while leaving out many others, seriously exacerbating social and political divides and fuelling the anger behind "populist" campaigns," he wrote.

Watch: Market Watch: What's spooking investors?

Video

Pumping up the prices of stock markets and houses without an underlying improvement in economic performance would become increasingly difficult to unwind "and ultimately threatens an almighty crash whenever it does come to an end - wiping out business and home buyers who got used to ultra-low rates for too long".

William Hague. Photo / File
William Hague. Photo / File

The purpose of independence for central bankers was so that they could be brave enough to make people confront reality, Hague wrote.

"Yet in reality they are blowing up a bubble of make-believe money to avoid immediate pain, except for penalising the poor and the prudent."

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter

SIGN UP NOW

© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 26 Mar 2017 17:34:19 Processing Time: 737ms