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2015年2月17日 (火)

社説:日銀政策委員会 「右に同じ」ばかりでは

February 16, 2015(Mainichi Japan)
Editorial: BOJ Policy Board should hold discussions from broader perspective
社説:日銀政策委員会 「右に同じ」ばかりでは

The Policy Board of the Bank of Japan (BOJ), the nation's central bank, consists of nine members including its governor and two vice governors. Why is the governor alone insufficient to make monetary policy?

Any economist can make mistakes in analysis and prediction. Therefore, the board makes policy decisions to prevent serious errors in judgments and policy excesses. The system is significant in that people with diverse personal histories and knowledge gather to express and exchange opinions.

In early February, the government submitted a proposal to the Diet to appoint economist and Waseda University professor Yutaka Harada to replace Ryuzo Miyao, whose term as a board member expires in late March. Harada is in favor of reflation and calls for large-scale quantitative easing. He supports the ultra-easy money policy promoted by BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, and does not appear opposed to the central bank further relaxing its monetary grip by buying yet more government bonds.

Moreover, the government needs to pick the successor of board member Yoshihisa Morimoto, whose tenure expires at the end of June. Concerns have been raised over whether the number of pro-reflation members will rise, lessening the significance of the board system.

The term of Policy Board members, including the governor and vice governors, is five years. The Cabinet appoints board members after gaining approval from both houses of the Diet. Since the ruling coalition has a majority in both chambers, the government's nominations are highly likely to clear the legislature.

The administration of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe regards quantitative relaxation as the "first arrow" of the three arrows in its "Abenomics" economic policy mix. It may appear natural in the eyes of the general public that the government selects candidates for the BOJ Policy Board in line with its policies. However, there would be no need for so many board members if they were all to have exactly the same ideas about monetary policy. The government may have become wary when the BOJ Policy Board voted by a narrow margin to further relax its monetary grip in late October last year, with five voting for the proposal and four against.

It is common for the opinion of the governor of the Bank of England, Britain's central bank, to be voted down by its nine-member Monetary Policy Committee. Former Bank of England Gov. Mervyn King was in a minority in five consecutive meetings of the committee, including the last meeting he attended as governor.

The Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee consists of members with various backgrounds.

Namat Shafik, one of two female members of the committee, is deputy governor and comes from Egypt.

She had previously served as vice president of the World Bank and deputy managing director of the International Monetary Fund. (Only one of the BOJ Policy Board's seats has been occupied by a woman since the revised BOJ Act came into force in 1998.)

Mark Carney, who is Canadian and once headed Canada's central bank, currently serves as governor of the Bank of England.

The biggest challenge that the BOJ now faces is the eventual exit from its quantitative easing policy, gradually decreasing the amount of government bonds it purchases while avoiding shocks to the financial markets.

If the BOJ Policy Board was dominated by pro-reflation members, it could delay such a policy change, amplify the distortion it causes the markets, and make it impossible to find an exit.

Those who will be appointed to the BOJ Policy Board will face extremely difficult challenges that the central bank has never experienced.

Both the executive and legislative branches of the government should cautiously select members of the panel while keeping in mind that the BOJ has entered a crucial phase, in which its Policy Board needs to have debate from a broad perspective.

毎日新聞 2015年02月16日 02時30分


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