Central banks' annus horribilis

As policymaking institutions, central banks had a good 2003. The global economy turned up, the financial sector strengthened. As businesses though, 2003 was a disaster. The plunging dollar saw central banks around the world take huge hits on their foreign exchange portfolios. Meanwhile the low interest rates, which they were using to stimulate national economies, have slashed the value of their domestic fixed-interest assets.

Now 2003 annual reports are coming out the true losses can be seen. The

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