The paper draws lessons from the experience of the past year for the conduct of central banks in the pursuit of macroeconomic and financial stability. Macroeconomic stability is defined as either price stability or as price stability and sustainable output or employment growth. Financial stability refers to (1) the absence of asset price bubbles, (2) the prevention or mitigation of systemically significant funding illiquidity and market illiquidity and (3) the prevention of insolvency of systemically important financial institutions. The performance of the Fed, the ECB and the Bank of England is evaluated in terms of these criteria. The Fed is judged to have done worst both as regards macroeconomic stability and as regards one of the two time dimensions of financial stability: minimizing the likelihood and severity of future financial crises. As regards ‘putting out fires’ (dealing with the immediate crisis), the Bank of England gets the wooden spoon for its early failure to perform the lender of last resort and market maker of last resort roles.
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