What could be worse in the eyes of a central banker than money counterfeiting? Well, killing people, even if judicially mandated, seems to be the answer. Germany’s Bundesbank on Thursday beat a hasty retreat from plans to send experts to Bangladesh next month to help combat a recent spate of money forgers. Read more
If a close confidant had asked Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, a year ago which City institutions he would like to take down a peg or two, the answer might well have been: Goldman Sachs and Barclays.
It has happened more by accident and opportunism than by express design, but during the past six months, the governor has duly hit those banks where it hurts. Read more
It seems Sir Mervyn King's eyebrows speak volumes. Image by Getty
The eyebrows of the governor of the Bank of England could become a force to be reckoned with once more.
In the days before the Basel rules, an eyebrow raised by the top man at the Bank — which was then chief financial regulator — supposedly put a stop to any misbehaviour by the banks.
It took slightly more than a raised eyebrow today. But just hours after Sir Mervyn King described Goldman Sachs’ plan to defer bonuses to avoid the 50 per cent top rate of income tax as “disappointing”, the US investment bank backed down. Read more
Having written rather outspoken columns about conceptual errors in the Retail Prices Index and criticising the UK statistical authorities for ducking the challenge of rectifying these errors, quite a few people have asked for some numeric examples about the scale of the problem so they can understand better how it arises.
(People who want the real gory detail should look at professor Erwin Diewert’s report)
The first thing to note is that contrary to well-intentioned explainers such as this one from the BBC, or the otherwise-rather-good editorial in today’s Times newspaper, the problem in the calculation of the RPI is not to do with the difference between geometric averages and arithmetic averages. It is really about the deficiencies of one particular arithmetic average, the Carli index.
Don’t just believe me, play with this spreadsheet, (Price indices). I will also help you to use it with a few worked examples. The worked examples are extremes, but they serve to show the important biases of different ways of calculating inflation. Read more