Independence - 20 years on

The 20th anniversary of operational independence over monetary policy for the Bank is an appropriate time for us to reflect on the theory of central bank independence, its practical application and its future.

Highlights from the conference 

We gathered a wide range of speakers to discuss what it means for a central bank to be free from political influence in London on 28-29 September 2017.  

The Independence Conference marked 20 years since the Bank of England was granted independence to set interest rates. We wanted to take a step back and reflect on central bank independence, its practical application and future challenges. 

Speakers included the Prime Minister Theresa May, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde. 

The event consisted of talks and panel discussions with observers, critics and other central bank practitioners.

Since we were granted operational independence over monetary policy on 6 May 1997, our responsibilities have grown to include financial stability and regulating firms such as banks and insurers.  

Couldn’t be there in person or just keen to delve deeper into the material? Don’t worry, it’s all here: videos, presentation slides and animated summaries of the speeches and panel discussions. 

PDFConference agenda

Day 1

28 September 2017

The Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, opened the conference by looking back on lessons learned over the past 20 years.

Read Mark Carney's opening remarks

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Mark Carney opening remarks

Watch Mark Carney's opening remarks

The Prime Minister, Theresa May, spoke about restoring faith in a free market economy. 

Theresa May’s speech

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Theresa May sketch
Independence Conference: 20 years on - Theresa May sketch

Watch Theresa May's speech

Session 1: central bank independence in retrospect

Guy Debelle, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, gave a presentation on central bank independence in retrospect. 

Other Guy Debelle’s presentation

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Guy Debelle sketch

Watch Guy Debelle’s speech

Debelle’s speech was followed by a panel discussion. Here’s a short summary

Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown spoke about the history of the Bank of England’s independence. His government granted the Bank operational independence over monetary policy in 1997. 
Independence Conference: 20 years on - Gordon Brown
Independence Conference: 20 years on - Gordon Brown

Watch Gordon Brown’s speech

Watch Ed Balls explain how independence came about

Session 2: Does the model remain fit for purpose? Monetary policy considerations

Ricardo Reis, professor at London School of Economics, talked about how to measure the success of the current model for central bank independence from a monetary policy point of view. 

PDF Ricardo Reis’s presentation

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Ricardo Reis
Independence Conference: 20 years on - Ricardo Reis

Watch a short summary from the panel discussion

Stanley Fischer, former governor of the Bank of Israel, shared his reflections on the framework for central bank independence today.

Stanley Fischer’s speech

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Stanley Fischer

Watch Stanley Fischer’s speech

Session 3: Does the model remain fit for purpose? Financial stability considerations 

Adair Turner from the Institute of New Economic Thinking spoke about the current model for central bank independence from a financial stability perspective.

Other Adair Turner’s presentation

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Adair Turner

Watch Adair Turner’s speech

Watch a short summary from the panel discussion

Day 2

29 September 2017

Session 4: International experiences and models of independence 

Adam Posen from the Peterson Institute for International Economics shared his observations on the global history of central bank independence. 

Other Adam Posen’s presentation

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Adam Posen

Watch Adam Posen’s speech 

Watch a short summary of the panel discussion

Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, spoke about central banking and Fintech.

Christine Lagarde’s speech

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Christine Lagarde

Watch Christine Lagarde’s speech

Session 5: the future of central bank independence

Willem Buiter from CitiGroup spoke about future challenges and possibilities for central bank independence.

Other Willem Buiter’s speech

Independence Conference: 20 years on - Willem Buiter sketch

Watch Willem Buiter’s speech

Watch a short summary of the panel discussion

Watch Mark Carney’s closing remarks

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