The pressure on leading central bankers is understandable given the changing mood about the world's growth prospects. Policymakers wary of a downturn and what it would do to their prospects for re-election naturally look towards these men and women for some sort of solution. US author Neil Irwin calls them "alchemists of monetary policy". Politicians are loath to undertake the more difficult structural changes in their economies because these can lead to early retirement. By pouring much liquidity into the financial system in unison for up to five years after the 2008 crisis, the heads of leading central banks saved us from the worst of the repercussions of Wall Street's greed. They cushioned the blow and spread a sugary high that seeped into financial markets. Developed economies had enough liquidity to carry them through, and, for emerging-market economies such as ours, the cheap money meant elevated stock markets and support for the rand. But the unconventional monetary policy, w...

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