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BoE’s King “doesn’t do sex appeal”

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Bank of England Governor Mervyn King was on good form when he addressed the Royal Society – Britain’s oldest scientific discussion club – on the vexing issue of communicating complex forecasts to the great unwashed.

Aside from his usual moan about the media’s desire to reduce the BoE’s beautiful but baffling ‘fan charts’ of inflation forecasts to one or two numbers, he made a rare and welcome admission that in past years the central bank had not done as well as it could have to flag up the risk that a financial crisis was about to happen.

The BoE’s financial stability reports – like those from many other central banks – sometimes sounded as if they were crying wolf in the years running up to the credit crunch by warning of pretty much every risk to markets short of Martian invasion.

So King’s suggestion that in future the BoE might give a percentage probability for whether the world is about to go to hell in a hand basket would certainly make it clearer to see when the central bank really thinks the storm clouds are gathering.

from The Great Debate UK:

Little room for manoeuvre in budget

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--Gerard Lyons is chief economist at Standard Chartered. The opinions expressed are his own. Lyons will also blog his post-budget thoughts on The Great Debate.--

The outcome of this financial crisis depends on the economic fundamentals, the policy response and confidence. Chancellor Alistair Darling presents this Budget in an environment where the fundamentals are poor, confidence has been shot to pieces and the credibility of policy and his ability to spend any more is being widely questioned.

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