european central bank Bloomberg/Getty Images

Waarom staan centrale banken weer in het beklaagdenbankje?

LONDEN – Sinds het afgelopen decennium bevinden centrale banken zich in een achtbaan en veranderen ze van helden naar totale nullen en weer terug. Staan we momenteel aan het begin van een nieuwe neergang in hun fortuin en reputatie?

In 2006, toen Alan Greenspan met pensioen ging na zijn 18 jaar durende periode als bestuursvoorzitter van de van de Federal Reserve, kon zijn reputatie nauwelijks beter zijn. Hij had de economie van de VS door de dot.com-hausse en -ineenstorting geleid, voorzichtig om de potentiele dreiging voor de groei van de terroristische aanslagen van 11 september 2001 heen genavigeerd, en een periode van snelle groei van het bbp en de productiviteit overzien. Op zijn laatste bestuursvergadering leverde Timothy Geithner, toenmalig president van de Fed van New York, een nu beschamend overkomende lofzang af, waarin hij zei dat de sterrenreputatie van Greenspan in de toekomst waarschijnlijk alleen maar zou groeien in plaats van verminderen.

Nog maar drie jaar later was Nobelprijswinnaar economie Paul Krugman, die leende uit de parrot sketch van Monthy Python, in de gelegenheid te zeggen dat Greenspan een ex-maestro was wiens reputatie nu op het kerkhof lag. Centrale banken werden in brede kring gezien alsof ze in de eerste jaren van deze eeuw aan de knoppen hadden zitten slapen. Ze stonden toe dat mondiale onevenwichtigheden zich opbouwden, keken minzaam toe hoe een enorme kredietzeepbel ontstond, negeerden alarmbellen in de hypotheekmarkt, en bewonderden kritiekloos innovatieve maar giftige producten ontworpen door overbetaalde investeringsbankiers.

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