Meanwhile,GordonBrownhasoncountlessoccasionsclaimedcreditforBankindependenceasoneofthetriumphsofhistenyearsaschancellor。

AndEdBallspointstoapamphlethewrotein1992advocatingindependencefortheBank。

WhenIpresenteddetailedproposalstoGordonandTonyin1995,theybothagreedinprincipleitwastherightthingtodo,hesaidinaninterviewwithTheSundayTimeslastweekend。

YetasIvesaid,inreality,therewasneveranythingparticularlyoriginalabouttheidea。

IndependentcentralbankshadworkedverywellforalongtimeinAmerica,Germany,andelsewhere。

YoucouldargueBritainalreadyhadoneinthelate1980swhenthethen-chancellorNigelLawsonwasshadowingthedeutschemark–itjusthappenedtobetheBundesbankratherthanBankofEngland。

KenClarkeaschancellorunderJohnMajorhadincreaseditspowersoverinterestrates。

Sothedecisionwaspartofanevolvingpolicy,ratherthanasuddenandbrilliantinnovation。

BlairsrecentdecisiontotakecreditfortheBanksindependenceis,intruth,confirmationthatthemanknowslittleabouteconomics。

UnderanindependentBankgrowthhasbeenfairlymodest。

Overtheyears1997to2009,theBritisheconomygrewatanaverageannualrateof2%,accordingtocalculationsbytheNationalInstituteofEconomicandSocialResearch。

UnderthepreviousperiodofConservativerule,from1979to1997,itgrewby2。

2%。

Between1960and1973itgrewbyanaverageof2。

9%。

Soitsonlycomparedtothechaoticyearsofthemid-1970sthatthegrowthfiguresfortheyearsofBankindependencelookgood。

Judgedbythewholeofthepost-warperiod,2%isslightlydisappointing。

Anenormousdebtbubblealsobuiltup。

AccordingtoMcKinseydata,overthelastdecadeBritainsawthelargestincreaseintheratioofdebttoGDPofanydevelopedeconomy。

Totalpublicandprivatedebtsrosefrom350%ofGDPatthestartofthedecadeto449%atitsend。

Thehousingmarketdulywentcrazy。

Between1979and1997,housepricesgrewby146%,accordingtoNationwidefigures。

Between1997and2009,theygrewby230%。

Housingwasalreadyveryexpensive。

OntheBankswatch,itturnedintoabubble。

Admittedly,theBankdidnthavecontrolofthefinancialsystem–thatwashivedofftotheFinancialServicesAuthority。

Evenso,thefactthatBritainsawthemostcatastrophicseriesofbankingcollapsesinmorethanacenturysinceitwasgrantedindependenceishardlyagreatadvertisementforitsrole。

NorhastheBankevenbeenparticularlysuccessfulatmeetingitsinflationtarget。

Itismandatedtomaintaininflationat2%,withnomorethana1%deviationineitherdirection。

Butthisyear,forexample,inflationhasbeenabove3%formorethansevenmonthsinarow,andshowslittlesignofcomingdown。

Fewpeoplelookingattheirhouseholdbillswouldconcludetherecordonrisingpriceshadbeengreatoverthelastthirteenyears。

Naturally,itisunfairtoblamethewholeofthatrecordontheBank。

Thegrowthratehasmoretodowiththeoverallthrustofgovernmentpolicythanwithinterestratesalone。

Againststeadilyrisingtaxesandmoreandmoreregulation,Britainwasalwaysgoingtostruggle。

Thecreditbubblewaspartofaglobaltrend,evenifBritaintookpartinitwithmoreenthusiasmthananyothercountry。

ItishardtodisentanglewhereresponsibilityliesbetweenthegovernmentandtheBankfortheeconomicmismanagementofthelast13years。

ButtheBankcouldcertainlyhavedonebetter。

Interestrateslooktohavebeenheldtoolowfortoolongforthehealthoftheeconomy。

Itfrettedpubliclyabouthouseprices,butshiedawayfromdoinganythingaboutthem。

True,itshardtoprickassetbubbles,butthatsnotreallyanadequateexcusefornottrying。

Indeed,giventhegenerallydisappointingrecentrecordoftheeconomyunderanindependentcentralbank,itisoddthatsomanypoliticianswanttoclaimthecreditformakingitindependent。

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