Open Forum: How independent can a central bank be?

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Thursday, 21 September saw the first of the Riksbank’s new seminar series for opinion-makers, politicians and other stakeholders in society. The participants in the discussion panel, Lars Heikensten, Kerstin Hessius, Lotta Engzell Larsson and Anna Breman debated the Riksbank's independence – what influence should politicians have on the Riksbank's aims and activities? There is a video of the seminar that can now be viewed in its entirety (only available in Swedish).

Picture of the participants in the panel

Lars Heikensten, Kerstin Hessius, Lotta Engzell Larsson, Anna Breman, Mia Odabas

 

Last year the Government decided to appoint a parliamentary commission to review the monetary policy framework and the Sveriges Riksbank Act. Norway has recently produced a proposal for new central bank legislation and there are also discussions in other countries regarding the objectives, frameworks and mandates for central banks. These are some of the reasons why the Riksbank has now started a new series of seminars for important external target groups. Quite simply, we want to invite them here for discussions and dialogues and to encourage an open debate on the future role of the Riksbank in society. We call this series of seminars Open Forum and next year when the Riksbank – the world's oldest central bank – celebrates its 350th anniversary, we will be organising further seminars on various themes.

 

The starting point was Thursday 21 September and the first seminar concerned central bank independence. Anders Vredin (Head of the Riksbank's General Secretariat and currently acting Head of the Monetary Policy Department) began by talking about the importance of being open – this creates confidence, legitimacy and credibility for the Riksbank's work. Then the panel, which consisted of Lars Heikensten, Executive Director of the Nobel Foundation, Kerstin Hessius, CEO of the AP3 pension fund, Lotta Engzell Larsson, editorial writer at Dagens industri newspaper and Anna Breman, Group Chief Economist at Swedbank, took over. There followed a lively and interesting debate, which covered tricky questions concerning monetary policy, financial stability, balance sheets and governance, under the guidance of moderator Mia Odabas. The audience consisted of around 5 politicians, civil servants, opinion-makers and journalists.

 

"It is very rewarding for the Riksbank to listen to people who follow the Riksbank closely, but are outside of the institution itself. Next year we will celebrate our 350th anniversary and these seminars will be a part of the jubilee year, when we will both be highlighting our history and looking ahead," says Riksbank Director of Communications Ann-Leena Mikiver.

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