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Central Banks, Financial Regulators, and the Quest for Financial Stability

The global financial crisis gave economists pause for thought about what should be the future of macroeconomic policy. We have devoted much of our thinking to this issue these past three years, including how the many policy instruments work together.

The interactions between monetary and macroprudential policies, in particular, remain hotly debated. And this year’s IMF Annual Research Conference is an important opportunity to take that debate another step forward.

Looking back, it is striking how many papers from last year’s conference—on post-crisis macroeconomic and financial policies—have been so immediately relevant to events on the ground. Just to give you an example: the paper on fiscal space is obviously front and center in the policy debate on the European sovereign crisis, the United States’ budget, and challenges faced by advanced country governments more generally.

This year’s topic—monetary and macroprudential policies—is equally relevant. It goes to the core of central banks’ mandates, and their role in achieving macroeconomic and financial stability. The financial crisis triggered a fundamental rethinking of these issues, but much research, both conceptual and empirical, remains to be done. The conference provides an excellent opportunity to engage with prominent academics, policymakers and private sector practitioners. I hope the conference will contribute to expanding the frontier of knowledge on this topic.

The conference program lays the ground for an exciting debate.

Professor Hyun Song Shin of Princeton University will give the keynote Mundell-Fleming address. He will talk about the role of international factors in determining domestic financial conditions. We saw a good illustration of this in the run-up to the recent financial crisis, when European global banks intermediating U.S. dollar funds eased credit conditions in the United States. Clearly, such international linkages need to be taken into account when choosing an appropriate mix of monetary and macroprudential policies.

Eleven other papers we have on the program each touch on a critical aspect of the intersection between monetary and macroprudential policies. Just to give you a flavor of what to expect, here are some of the questions we will be discussing:

In addition to the Mundell-Fleming Lecture, the conference will feature three other policy-oriented events. David Lipton, the IMF’s First Deputy Managing Director, will open the conference. The luncheon speech, by Jean-Pierre Landau, Second Deputy Governor of the Banque de France, will be an opportunity to reflect with a central bank insider on the role of central banks in maintaining financial stability and how that role is set to evolve in light of the lessons from the crisis.

And we will conclude the conference with an Economic Forum on “Monetary and Macroprudential Policies: Challenges and Solutions.” A panel of experts—including Lewis Alexander (Nomura), Joe Gagnon (Peterson Institute of International Economics), Andrew Lo (MIT), and John Williams (Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco)—will discuss how synergies between monetary and macroprudential policies can be best achieved to reduce the risks of future financial crises, without imposing undue costs on the economy.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Conference Organizing Committee and the Editor of the IMF Economic Review, Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, for drawing up such an outstanding program. Some of the conference papers will be featured in the IMF Economic Review, which is becoming a required reading for everyone interested in questions related to global economic policies, open economy macroeconomics, and international finance and trade.

As always, the IMF’s Annual Research Conference is intended to be a forum for discussing innovative research, and facilitating an exchange of views among researchers and policymakers. Like in the past, we hope that research presented at this conference will contribute to new policy thinking both here at the IMF, and among economists and policymakers more broadly.

I hope you can find the time to read the papers posted online, and to join us via the broadcast of the Economic Forum at or by commenting here.