Shinzo Abe and the Liberal Democratic Party swept back into power in mid-December by promising a high-octane mix of monetary and fiscal policies to pull Japan out of its two-decade run of economic misery. To get there, Prime Minister Abe is threatening a hostile takeover of the Bank of Japan, the nation’s central bank. The terms of surrender may go something like this: Unless the BOJ agrees to a 2 percent inflation target and expands its current government bond-buying operation, the ruling LDP might push a new central bank charter through the Japanese Diet. That charter would greatly diminish the BOJ’s independence to set monetary policy and allow the prime minister to sack its governor.
[I]ndependence has really come to mean a central bank that has been captured by Wall Street interests, very large banking interests. It might be independent of the politicians, but it doesn’t mean it is a neutral arbiter. During the Great Depression and coming out of it, the Fed took its cues from Congress. Throughout the entire 1940s, the Federal Reserve as a practical matter was not independent. It took its marching orders from the White House and the Treasury—and it was the most successful decade in American economic history.