Sarkozy, despite being a man, sometimes gets things wrong. Though being a man, people don’t tend to make as much of a fuss as they do when Segolene gaffes. In a televised interview on France 2 last night, Sarkozy said that Gordon Brown likes to meddle with interest rates to boost the economy and keep the pound under control.
‘I like England very much,’ he told Charles Bremner, the Scottish reporter from the Times about the Bank of England, a Scottish invention, and the Scots-born Brown. ‘As soon as growth slows, Chancellor Gordon Brown and the central bank governor meet and decide to cut interest rates to make the pound fall.’
After decades of disastrous boom and bust economics, blamed on government meddling in the economy, Brown made the U.K. central bank independent 10 years ago. It was one of his first acts as chancellor, and is credited for much of the healthiness of the U.K. economy today. Much as he likes to tinker, Brown has largely left the central bank to do its job without interference.
I’ve been told by many French diplomats and politicians that the reason France is so critical of the European Central Bank is because it doesn’t have the same tradition of central bank independence as Germany. But neither does Britain. We set the bank free because politicians realised it was better leaving the job to professionals. France’s state-centric tendencies makes it difficult for politicians to surrender control, but they would do well to consider it. Given the extent of economic ignorance in France, it is quite incredible they think they could do a better job.