THE BATTLE OF THREE CENTURIES

The Economist

The current criticisms of central banks echo old debates

TWENTY years ago, the Bank of England was given the freedom to set interest rates by the British government. It was part of a trend that made central bankers the most powerful financial actors on the planet, setting interest rates, buying trillions of dollars of assets, targeting exchange rates and managing the economic cycle. Over more than 300 years, the power of central banks has ebbed and flowed, as governments have enhanded and restricted their powers, in response to economic necessity and intellectual fashion.