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© James Ferguson

Investment bankers receive much opprobrium for their role in the 2008 financial crisis. But there is another group who deserve to be criticised for their actions since then: central bankers. In his latest column, Martin Sandbu points out that all the major central banks are now either tightening monetary policy or looking as though they will do so. This shift has come much later than anyone — including the bankers — suspected, as “normal” conditions have yet to return.

If we accept the idea that the major economies are only just returning to their full capacity, Martin argues that the central banks could have safely accelerated demand growth to close the output gaps sooner. If this mistake is acknowledged, the devastating costs in lost growth and jobs over the last decade become apparent. A greater cost, in fact, than was seen in the immediate losses of GDP in the 2008/9 recession.

Sarah O’Connor suggests that retirees are not the only folks who need a break. Some of the younger and more active members of the workforce could benefit from stepping off the hamster wheel for a while.

Barry McCarthy, chief financial officer of Spotify, writes that initial public offerings are too expensive and cumbersome. Companies should take inspiration from his own efforts and use direct listings.

Gu Bin, an assistant professor at the Beijing Foreign Studies University, argues that the Belt and Road Initiative is not China’s Marshall Plan. Those who are sceptical of the programme are blinded by an outdated cold-war mindset.

What you’ve been saying

Higher education’s goal is to benefit society: letter from Mike Boxall, London, UK

The root of the problem is not increased participation (“ British universities face a crisis of over-ambitious expansion”, August 1), but the apparent acceptance that higher education is all about the money, both for students and providers. Young people are lured into university by the promise of higher lifetime earnings, while universities have been forced to maximise their income from student fees. Neither the promise nor the business model is working, as the growing numbers of underemployed graduates and struggling providers proves.

In response to Escalating sanctions could cripple Turkey’s economy, Meh…says:

Strange to see the US act this way over one individual, particularly when it needs Turkish cooperation to pursue its agenda in the Middle East. That’s not to defend Turkey’s actions, but it seems the Trump administration is doing everything it can to try to push Turkey into the arms of Russia and Iran.

Forgotten truths about cash and liabilities: letter from Neil Woodcock, Edinburgh, UK

Further to “Setting flawed standards” (The Big Read, August 2): the Big Four accounting firm of which I was a partner for 20 years issued a video entitled “Only cash is real and liabilities are forever”, aimed primarily at banking clients, in the early 1990s. Clearly they and the other Big Four firms abandoned this notion some years ago — more’s the pity!

Today’s opinion

Japan’s ‘mad scientists’ pursue a cyborg-friendly future
An emerging scientific field seeks to combine living tissue with metals and plastics

The Belt and Road Initiative is not China’s Marshall Plan
Those suspicious of the project are blinded by an outdated, cold war mindset

FT Alphaville: Saudi Arabia vs. Canada, the education angle

Why I am one of the women running for Congress
Latina candidate for Texas district argues voters want a new approach to immigration

The devastating cost of central banks’ caution
Timidity on monetary policy since 2008 has been as costly as the financial crisis

Retirees are not the only ones who need a break
Stepping off the hamster wheel occasionally can boost stamina

FT View

The FT View: Women CEOs and the hard path to the board
Efforts to promote female bosses should start with recruitment

The FT View: Saudi Arabia throws a tantrum with Canada
The west should stand by Ottawa in rebuffing a thin-skinned crown prince

The Big Read

The Big Read: Identity crisis: the insurers moving away from insurance
Some companies want to do much less covering of risk and focus on services for customers. But they will face stiff competition

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