William R. White is the chairman of the Economic and Development Review Committee at the OECD in Paris. Prior to that, Dr. White held a number of senior positions with the Bank for International Settlements (“BIS”), including Head of the Monetary and Economic Department, where he had overall responsibility for the department's output of research, data and information services, and was a member of the Executive Committee which manages the BIS. He retired from the BIS on 30 June 2008.

Dr. White began his professional career at the Bank of England, where he was an economist from 1969 to 1972. Subsequently he spent 22 years with the Bank of Canada. In addition to his many publications, he speaks regularly to a wide range of audiences on topics related to monetary and financial stability.

In the following interview he shares his views in a totally personal capacity on the current state of the global economy and related monetary and fiscal policies.

E. Tavares: Dr. White, we are delighted to be speaking with you today. You are recognized as one of the leading central bank economists in the world, and so your perspective is highly valued and appreciated.

Absent the robust central bank intervention in 2008 the world’s financial system would have likely collapsed. However, in a sense the economy looks riskier now: government debt levels as a function of GDP are at record highs; big financial institutions have gotten even bigger; and while we may not have a housing credit crisis brewing in the US, we are seeing stress in many areas, from student loans to energy bank loans to emerging market convulsions. At the same time, income inequality has blown out of proportion as booming asset prices hardly benefited the less privileged in society.

With the benefit of hindsight, can we say that the very loose monetary policy of central banks around the world lulled politicians and investors into a false sense of security and that those unresolved issues from the recent past could still come back to haunt them? Or can they keep things under control with these newly found monetary “bazookas”?

W. White: I think your assessment of where we are at is spot on. What the central banks did in