The US Federal Reserve’s sharp pivot toward easing amid substantial White House pressure has raised concerns about central bank independence, as have developments in other advanced and emerging market economies alike. How worried we should be about this threat—and its implications for policy, the economy, and markets—is Top of Mind.
In this episode of the Top of Mind at Goldman Sachs podcast, Goldman Sachs Research’s Allison Nathan interviews former central bankers Donald Kohn and Sir Paul Tucker who explain why central bank independence is critical to maintaining price and financial stability—even today when too little, rather than too much, inflation is the main problem. But while Kohn is concerned that Trump’s overt pressure could undermine Fed credibility, Tucker worries more that over-reliance on central banks since the GFC has left them vulnerable to politicization. Nathan also speaks with the firm’s chief economist Jan Hatzius who does not believe the Fed has responded directly to pressure from the White House, but does think that political pressure could already be influencing Fed policy through indirect channels such as bond market pricing. That said, Hatzius argues this in itself shouldn’t inflict too much harm on the economy unless inflationary pressures rise materially.