‘Normalising’ – central bank policy and the ‘real’ economy

Held on Monday, May 21, 2018

With support from CMS


  • Philip Booth (St Mary’s University, Twickenham)

  • George Buckley (Nomura)

  • Tim Congdon (Institute of International Monetary Research)

  • Jamie Dannhauser (Ruffer)

  • Charles Dumas (TS Lombard)

  • Kevin Gardiner (Rothschild & Co)

  • Lena Komileva (G+ Economics)

  • Trevor Williams (TW Consulting)



What’s the collective noun for a group of economists? A gaggle? A flock? Presumably not a pride… Whatever, there is a big issue today that any serious economist, of whatever hue, has to consider: what (if anything) is going to happen as central banks around the world withdraw stimulus, nudge interest rates higher, wind down their bond-buying programmes, and generally bring to an end an era of unprecedentedly low real interest rates?

There is also a question of timing. Although our own Dr Carney has hinted that the markets may be getting ahead of themselves, the general assumption seems to be that the FOMC will increase US interest rates by around 75 basis points by year-end, that the BoE will follow (albeit with a lag), and that the ECB and BoJ will eventually have to bite the bullet. For at least some people, that raises serious questions since there are also signs that money supply growth may be starting to slow down on both sides of the Atlantic – with implications for the real economy.

These are deep waters – but they are worth tackling, though possibly not in a standard format.

What I hope we will achieve is a “round-table within a round-table” – a sort of conversation among a half-dozen or so eminent economists, that we, the rest of us, can eavesdrop on (and to which we can add our own two-penn’orth from time to time). In other words, while I will try to keep speakers roughly on track, we will try to keep formal presentations to a minimum in favour of rigorous (but not too rigorous) interaction. Among those interacting will be:

  • Philip Booth is professor of finance, public policy and ethics at St Mary’s University, Twickenham. He is a former research director at the IEA and has published widely in the areas of finance, regulation, Catholic social teaching and social insurance. He is also a former associate dean at Cass Business School and worked as a consultant on financial stability issues to the Bank of England.
  • George Buckley is Nomura’s chief UK economist and co-head of European economics. He has a PhD from Bristol in housing economics and has lectured there. He is also the author of What You Need to Know About Economics.
  • Tim Congdon is one of the UK’s leading economists – and one of global economics’ leading monetarists. He is a former journalist (The Times), a former City economist and the founder of Lombard St Research – which he left in 2005 to spend more time writing on monetary theory. That has resulted in a number of pamphlets, essays and books, and in the establishment of the Institute of International Monetary Research, of which he is currently chairman.
  • Jamie Dannhauser is in-house economist at Ruffer – which he joined in 2014, having spent seven years as a senior economist at Lombard St Research. He is currently a member of the IEA’s Shadow MPC.
  • Charles Dumas is another who has been long associated with Lombard St Research (now, TS Lombard) of which he is currently chief economist. He is a former head of research for JPMorgan in London, and before that was director of European economics for GM. He, too, is a former journalist (The Economist).
  • Kevin Gardiner is MD and head of investment strategy at Rothschild & Co, which he joined from Barclays Wealth (where he was chief investment officer) in 2014. His book, Making Sense of Markets, was published in 2015.
  • Lena Komileva is MD and chief economist at G+ Economics, a London-based research consultancy. Before that, she was a senior VP and global head of G10 strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman.
  • Trevor Williams left Lloyds Bank’s commercial bank (where he had been chief economist for 10 years) last year, to set up his own consultancy focusing on ‘big data’. He is also a visiting professor at the University of Derby, a lecturer at Cass and Cardiff, and the co-author of Trading Economics: A Guide to Economic Statistics for Practitioners.

Frankly, I have no idea how (or whether) this will work. But there is no doubt that central bank policy is at a crucial point – and that decisions taken (or not taken) by the FOMC, the MPC etc will have profound consequences for the real economy. Even if the discussion generates more heat than light, any light at all will be a big plus. So, please come along – but if you (or a colleague) would like to join us, please let us know by emailing alex@csfi.org or by calling the CSFI on 0207-621-1056. Thanks to the generosity of our friends at CMS (which now incorporates Nabarro), I can promise wine and sandwiches to help the (economic) medicine go down.

Sincerely yours,

Andrew Hilton