STEVEN FRIEDMAN: Pointless Bank debate a distraction from serious issues
If we want a Reserve Bank that cares more about growth and development, we should change its mandate, not its shareholding
As long as acute poverty and inequality survive, we will battle to tell the difference between real ideas for change and get-rich-quick schemes. News that the EFF plans a motion in parliament calling for the Reserve Bank to be "nationalised" revives our most pointless debate. The fact that the Bank has private shareholders is highly unusual – virtually all central banks are owned by the state. But this oddity has no impact on anyone’s life. The Bank’s ownership does not affect anything it does. Its decisions on interest rates, which do affect people’s lives, are not influenced by its shareholders; they have no say over who sits on the monetary policy committee that decides rates. Nor did shareholders draft its constitutional mandate, which is narrower than that of most other central banks and does affect people’s lives. If we want a Reserve Bank that cares more about growth and development, we should change its mandate, not its shareholding. An end to the Bank’s private shareholding...