'There's too much pressure on monetary policy,' says Philippine central bank governor

  • "Monetary policy is not the only game in town," said Benjamin Diokno, governor of the Philippine central bank.
  • He added that governments should deploy fiscal policies or structural reforms to help lift economic growth.
  • Diokno named Trump as the single biggest risk to the global economy now.

There's been "too much pressure" on central banks to lift economic growth through monetary policy, according to the Philippine central bank governor, Benjamin Diokno.

Global growth prospects have dampened amid a trade war between the U.S. and China that looks likely to drag on for years. But the responsibility to boost economic activity during such times is not the central bank's alone, Diokno said Friday.

"There's too much pressure on monetary policy," he told CNBC's Oriel Morrison at the Milken Institute Asia Summit in Singapore. "Monetary policy is not the only game in town. So each government should look at all the aspects like fiscal policies, what can they do at the moment, look at some structural reforms they can do."

Several government leaders have turned up the pressure on their respective central banks to support the economy, including by appointing governors deemed to favor easier monetary policies. U.S. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has criticized Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell for not cutting interest rates quick enough.

Central banks around the world eased monetary policies following the global financial crisis, with some sending their interest rates into negative territory. Policymakers have just started to move rates back to pre-crisis levels before they decided to cut interest rates again in recent months.

Trump is the biggest risk

The reliance on monetary policy to boost growth is a topic widely touched on at the Milken Institute Asia Summit on Thursday, including at a panel discussion that Diokno participated in.

During the discussion, Diokno named Trump as the single biggest risk to the global economy now.

He explained that the U.S. economy is experiencing "steroid growth" boosted by Trump's tax cuts. But that would exacerbate America's "massive debt" which could be a problem for the world economy down the road, the governor said.

Another panelist, Michael Sabia — the president and chief executive of Canadian investor CDPQ — said the "growth problem" facing the global economy today is not one that can be solved by monetary policy.

He added that even after trillions of dollars were injected into the economy through easy monetary policies, global growth rates have continued to decline.

Governments and investors should instead look at ways to make economies more productive through investments in infrastructure and education — and be less preoccupied with what central banks do, he said.

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