It is adolescent or worse to be so preoccupied with how someone looks, and her supposed reputation among the self-appointed conformists, than with the substance of her actions and values. This holds true whether that someone is a high school student or a monetary policy committee. That has not stopped such preoccupations and nasty name calling from spreading of late regarding central banks. In imagery typical of the preening machismo of financial markets participants and those who report on them, a number of people of late have spoken about the ECB losing its ‘political virginity’ or purity last month.--Adam S. Posen, Monetary Policy Committee, Bank of England, 14 June 2010, via a post in Paul Krugman's blog
One is tempted to ignore or dismiss such idle chatter, but let us take it at its vulgar face value to show just how empty these characterizations are. Cultures which make a public fixation of virginal purity, of a stylized maiden’s reputation, tend to be backward superstitious cultures that impede people exercising autonomy and making responsible choices. For society, and arguably for the young persons themselves, what matters is not a young person’s ‘virtue,’ let alone any reputation for such. What matters for society and for the young person is whether they are promiscuous, engaging in unsafe behavior, or getting pregnant casually, that is whether they behave responsibly.
So it is, too, for the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street and all other central banks. What matters for our independence is our ability to say no and to mean it, and to be responsible about when we choose to say yes.