RPT-INSIGHT-Central bankers cast as superheroes with no script

Thu Apr 18, 2013 11:06am EDT
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By Tomasz Janowski and Paul Carrel

TOKYO/FRANKFURT, April 18 (Reuters) - It is your first day as the new U.S. Federal Reserve chief: the main interest rate is 4.50 percent, the economy is overheating and the task is to keep inflation and unemployment low.

Once in a while there is a curve ball -- an oil crisis or a dollar spike -- and if you move rates up or down appropriately you will be reappointed.

Central banking was never as straightforward as "Fed Chairman", an online game created by the San Francisco Fed over a decade ago for high school and college students.

But playing it could make Ben Bernanke and his global counterparts long for simpler times.

A 3-D shootout game would now be closer to reality as they reluctantly fill the policy void left by hamstrung governments, at risk of overreaching and experimenting with measures that may have unpredictable consequences.

"There was a time, not too long ago, when central banking was considered to be a rather boring and unexciting occupation," European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said this week.

"Some thought that monetary policy could effectively be placed on auto-pilot. I can confidently say that this time has passed."   Continued...