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When the US Federal Reserve did a sudden turnabout this week, suggesting it had dropped plans for further interest rates this year, bemused economists inevitably asked whether the Fed was bowing to pressure from US President Donald Trump - who last year accused the Fed of "going crazy" by raising rates. The Fed held rates as expected but spoke a language that was much more dovish than before, emphasising the risks of slower global and US growth. Its comments were a gift to emerging-market currencies, including the rand, which bounced to seven-month highs. But the market's volatile response illustrated one of the many dangers of attempts by politicians to interfere with central banks - which is that it can poison attempts to assess monetary policy decisions. Was this good or bad, based on the economics? It becomes hard to say when it's not even clear that economics, rather than politics, were the main driver. Good monetary policy should be predictable and transparent, with central ba...

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