Barbados Central Bank records $3.7m loss in 2013

Go Lean Commentary

Barbados MoneyHow does a Central Bank lose money? This seems plausibly impossible.

Without detailing the anatomy of the banking system, here are a few facts that make this foregoing news article so inconceivable. A Central Bank compels a reserve requirement from all commercial banks within its jurisdiction. So for every $100 in deposits, a commercial bank would have to leave a secured amount, say $12 on hand at the Central Bank. The commercial bank can thusly only loan the residual $88 in this example. Control (raising/lowering) that reserve requirement percentage rate is how Central Banks control the money supply, interest rates and inflation – the economy.

So with no effort, a Central Bank gets a slice of every deposit in its jurisdiction, a country. This role/responsibility is so important that many view the Chairman of the US Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, as the most powerful man in the country; even more so than the President.

So despite all this power, how can a Central Bank possibly lose money?

A Central Bank also has the ability to create “money from thin air”, by buying and selling treasury bonds on the securities markets. This too is a method for Central Banks to control the money supply. An accounting entry on the ledger creates the liquidity to buy bonds (increase money supply) or sell bonds (contract the money supply).

With this system in place, a Central Bank prints and issues the hard currency for a country. For them to lose money gives the impression that their currency has no/little value.

Imagine, the Governors/Directors of the Central Bank of Barbados are to be considered the stewards of Barbados’s economy…and they posted a loss for fiscal 2013! (The Bible analogy of “the blind leading the blind” comes to mind!)

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday April 3, 2014, CMC – The Central Bank of Barbados (CBB) says it recorded a loss of BDS$3.7 million (One BDS dollar = US$0.50 cents) last year as it focused on restoring macroeconomic stability to the domestic economy.

The CBB in its 2013 annual report submitted to the govern-ment on Monday said that while its operating costs were largely unchanged, “the continuing weak investment climate for the low-risk securities that the Bank is permitted to hold continued to depress income.

“The Bank is reviewing options to contain expenditure over the medium term,” it added.

In its report, the CBB said that it focused on restoring macro-economic stability to the domestic economy as a weak performance of the key export sectors together with significantly lower foreign capital inflows constrained economic growth prospects.

“These developments placed pressure on foreign reserves, triggering a major policy adjustment to contain the erosion of the reserves, sustain the exchange rate anchor, reduce the fiscal deficit and slow the growth of Government debt.”

The CBB said the primary tool of policy was fiscal consolidation, reflected in increased taxation and expenditure-reducing measures.

“At the same time, the Bank continued to encourage the revitalisation of economic activity through growth in the tourism, agro-processing, international business and financial services, and alternative energy industries. “

It said that given the challenges facing the economy, the CBB stepped up its engagement with its stakeholders through a number of initiatives including presentations by internationally renowned speakers.

The CBB said in 2013 it introduced a new interest rate policy framework, designed to rationalise the process for adjustment of domestic interest rates.

“The policy permits virtual liberalisation of the minimum deposit rate, apart from ordinary savings accounts of individuals and non-profit organisations. This allows financial institutions to now set other deposit rates, while continuing to set lending rates.

“The policy also provides for intervention of the Bank in the Treasury Bill market, with the Treasury Bill rate now being used as a basis for determining rates for long term securities, along a notional yield curve which the Central Bank publishes.“

The Central Bank of Barbados said that the financial system remained stable during 2013 with banks profitable and well- capitalised.

It said the Financial Services Commission, which oversees the regulation of non- bank financial institutions, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Central Bank aimed at strengthening the monitoring of the financial system.

The CBB said for the first time in its 40-year history it has completely overhauled the design of the Barbados’ bank notes.

“In the past, only minor modifications had been made to the original series. The new series issued on June 4, 2013 replaced old and worn-out notes and there are enhanced security features that will make the new notes difficult to counterfeit and easier for the public to authenticate.”

The foregoing news article aligns with the prime directive of the book Go Lean … Caribbean to re-boot the economic engines of the Caribbean. The book narrates, thru anecdotes and statistical abstracts, the pain and suffering of previous mis-management of Caribbean currencies. The book then asserts that any regional effort to optimize the economy must be partnered with technocratic management of monetary affairs. As such, the book serves as a roadmap for the introduction and implementation of both the Caribbean Union Trade Federation (CU) and the independent, Caribbean Central Bank (CCB).

Before addressing the technical issues, the CU assumes a sentinel position to cautiously protect and promote image and branding of Caribbean people, culture and systems of commerce. The foregoing headline is a “call to arms” for this mission.

Monetary and currency issues are intertwined with any discussion of elevating the Caribbean’s economy. This issue is explored in full details in the book, commencing with the roadmap focus of the Declaration of Interdependence, pronouncing the need for astute management of the money supply with these statements (Page 13 & 14) respectively:

xxi. Whereas the legacy of international democracies had been imperiled due to a global financial crisis, the structure of the Federation must allow for financial stability and assurance of the Federation’s institutions. To mandate the economic vibrancy of the region, monetary & fiscal controls and policies must be incorporated … [to] address threats against the financial integrity of the Federation and member-states.

xxix. Whereas all Caribbean democracies depend of the free flow of capital for municipal, public and private financing, the institutions of capital markets can be better organized around a regional monetary union. The Federation must institute the controls to insure transparency, accounting integrity and analysis independence of the securities markets, thereby shifting the primary source of capital away from foreign lenders to domestic investors, comprising institutions and individuals.

The roadmap is to confederate all the 30 member-states of the Caribbean, despite their language and legacy, into an integrated “single market”, with a unified currency, Caribbean Dollar (C$). This follows the model of the European Union and the European Central Bank with the world’s strongest currency, the Euro.

The book maintains that the security of the Caribbean is inextricably linked to the economy of the Caribbean; as such there is the need for federal oversight, monitoring and mitigations of threats, risks and casualties for the integrated market and the related systems of commerce.

These above comments address the “coulda-woulda-shoulda” aspects of the foregoing news article. The Go Lean roadmap also brings a sense of reality to the focus of economic empowerment in the Caribbean. This means that “it is what it is”. So why did the Central Bank of Barbados post a $3.7 Million loss for 2013?

This requires a sober assessment; the managers for the bank are duly qualified. Dr. DeLisle Worrell was appointed as Governor of the Central Bank on November 1, 2009. He is an acclaimed Economist, author and professor; he is a subject-matter-expert (SME) for small island economics, having authored a book entitled SMALL ISLAND ECONOMIES; he is a technocrat!

The foregoing article alludes that the loss was due to the volatility of foreign exchange (Fx) management. It is these kinds of issues that the Go Lean roadmap targets for mitigation and better management. The book posits that the problems of Caribbean currencies are too big for any one member-state to resolve, that the best solution is to confederate the 30 member-states, and their Central Banks, into a “single market” Central Bank for the unified C$ currency – a cooperative of banks. Since the Barbados dollar alone cannot garner the volumes for respect and participation in the international Fx markets, this SMALL ISLAND ECONOMY must “fend for its life” as best it can, buying and selling US dollars in the open market to control the amount/value of the Barbadian dollar. This process is “hit-and-miss”. For 2013, it was a “miss”!

The strategies, tactics, implementations for the Caribbean Union Trade Federation & Caribbean Central Bank management of the economy are detailed in the Go Lean roadmap. Here are sample selections from the book:

Separation-of-Powers: Central Bank – Currency Printing/Engraving Page 73
Separation-of-Powers: Depository Insurance & Regulatory Authority Page 73
Separation-of-Powers: Securities Exchange Regulatory Agency Page 74
Separation-of-Powers: Emergency Management Page 76
10 Ways to Better Manage Debt Page 114
10 Ways to Promote Independence Page 120
10 Ways to Model the EU Page 129
10 Lessons Learned from 2008 Page 135
10 Ways to Control Inflation Page 153
10 Ways to Better Manage Foreign Exchange Page 154
10 Ways to Mitigate Black Markets Page 165
10 Ways to Foster Cooperatives Page 176
10 Reforms for Banking Regulations Page 199
10 Ways to Impact Wall Street Page 200

Download the Book- Go Lean…Caribbean Now!!!


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