Central banking and Beatles: What is the connection?

Interesting speech by Jens Weidmann of Bundesbank. He points how Beatles gave their last performance 5 years ago:

It was on 30 January 1969, to be precise. What I would give to have been strolling down London’s Savile Row during my lunch break on what was, like today, a chilly Thursday. Passers-by could hardly believe their ears. Music was blaring from the rooftop of house number 3. But it wasn’t just any old music – it was the Beatles, and they were playing live1.  

By this point in their career, the Beatles hadn’t given a live concert for more than two years, having decided to concentrate on their work in the studio. Recordings for the Fab Four’s latest LP, which would later be released under the title Let It Be, were being videotaped, and the highlight of the documentary was to be a live concert at a spectacular location. But the band ended up simply performing a concert on the roof of their headquarters.

What no-one suspected at the time was that it would be the last time the Beatles ever performed live. 50 years ago, then, saw the end of a musical era that we still hold dear today. And that’s why the Beatles will pop up at various points during my speech here today. 

He discusses outlook for German economy and how it can be improved. Then talks about the monetary union and draws analogies from musical bands:

Not only did the Beatles shape the music of their time in a way that no other group has ever managed, they also showed what makes a good band: it needs to be greater than the sum of its parts. The same is true when musicians come from different musical backgrounds and were previously solo artists.

Which takes us back to the present and to European monetary union. Some 19 countries decided to form a band for the long haul. This band has now been gracing the stage for 20 years, already twice as long as the Beatles. With that in mind, it’s more like the Rolling Stones: there is no end in sight.

…..

In order to be forearmed in the long run, euro area countries first need to be proactive by making their economies competitive. Second, they need to keep their finances on a sound footing, as is also set out in the fiscal rules we have all agreed upon. 

Going back to our band analogy, this means that every member of the band can and needs to do their bit in order to make the joint project a success – for instance, by regularly practising their instruments, turning up to rehearsals on time and sharing the group’s core values.

Nice way to explain.

In the end:

The Beatles’ impromptu rooftop concert 50 years ago ended after 42 minutes. In my opinion, speeches shouldn’t last longer than rock concerts, so I will now bring this to a close.

Thanks to its University of Popular Music, Mannheim, too, has a special connection to modern music. But anyone who wants to give their ears a rest for the time being will find an interesting alternative on offer at the Kunsthalle Mannheim. Until Sunday, it is hosting an exhibition entitled “Constructing the World: Art and Economy 1919-1939 and 2008-2018”. 

It’s actually two exhibitions in one, and sheds light on the era from 1919 to 1939, during which time the Great Depression raged, and the period following the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008. It asks exciting questions such as how does art respond to change and crisis, and where there are parallels between the two eras. 

Whatever answers await you, I can assure you of one thing: the Bundesbank is working hard to ensure there will be no reason to set up a third section of the exhibition so quickly.

Let’s take one last look at that rooftop in London’s Savile Row. John Lennon ended the concert with a comment highlighting his trademark ironic humour: “I hope we’ve passed the audition,” he said, before leaving the stage.

I, however, will be staying on stage to answer your questions. I look forward to finding out what you would like to know.

A pretty useful way to connect music and central banking. Or for that matter any policy.

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