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How can you tell if a central banker is lying? He moves his lips

Section: Daily Dispatches

Swiss Give Scary Lesson on Central Banks' Limits

By Swaha Pattanaik
Thursday, January 15, 2015

Central bankers have to live up to high expectations. Investors and politicians expect them to control inflation, prevent deflation, promote growth and keep the financial system healthy. The Swiss National Bank, an above-average institution, has failed at two simpler tasks, keeping its word and preventing destabilising currency moves. The lessons for the rest of the world are scary.

After three years, and without either notice or much of an explanation, the Swiss abruptly ditched their cap on the franc’s value. The franc promptly surged 40 percent against the euro before giving back more than half its gains. Investors and Swiss firms were in uproar.

The first lesson is never trust a central banker when he or she makes a commitment or gives guidance. ...

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