"In the eyes of the media" – new special exhibition in the Money Museum
The Bundesbank has launched its special exhibition "Guardian of the currency – 60 years of the Bundesbank in the eyes of the media". The exhibition shows how the work of the central bank has been perceived by the media in the 60 years since it was founded and will be open to the public at the Bundesbank's Money Museum in Frankfurt am Main until 15 August 2017.
At the opening of the exhibition, Otmar Issing, former member of the Bundesbank's Directorate and the Executive Board of the ECB, discussed the role and tasks of central bank communications with Armin Mahler, head of the business section of the German weekly magazine "Der Spiegel" and Holger Steltzner, one of the four editors of the "Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung" (FAZ) daily newspaper. The discussion was moderated by Henrik Müller, professor of economic journalism at the Technical University of Dortmund.
"The Monthly Report isn't something you'd read on the train"
Professor Issing, who was a member of the member of the Bundesbank's Directorate from 1990 to 1998, explained that, in his opinion, central bank communications should be credible, transparent, consistent and clear.
"We can't expect people to read the Monthly Report on the train", he said, referring to the Bundesbank's long-standing publication. Instead, he continued, it was the task of journalists to communicate the messages in the report to the general public. The representatives from the media agreed with him only up to a point. While it was true that the media was responsible for transmitting information, Mr Steltzner replied,
"Journalists are not the Bundesbank's mouthpiece". Mr Mahler added that, as well as communicating the Bundesbank's message, it was, first and foremost, the media's task to analyse it.
"Of course, that can lead to conflict with those who simply want to get a message across to the public," he said.
Professor Müller suggested to the journalists that the press had, in the past, been slow to criticise the Bundesbank and, even today, too often sided with Germany's central bank, especially when it came to perceived conflicts with the ECB. Both journalists rejected this view, with Mahler emphasising that his magazine had taken a clear stance against the Bundesbank in the 1970s and 1980s. Steltzner described his newspaper's critical coverage of the ECB's policies as justified:
"The ECB is overstepping its mandate by purchasing government bonds, which is tantamount to the monetary financing of governments". He said that his colleagues' opinions were not being swayed by the Bundesbank or the Federal Ministry of Finance.
"They are expressing their own views," he stated.
For Professor Issing, the fact that the German public sees the ECB's policy differently to the rest of the euro area reflects the diversity to be found within the currency area.
"The convergence in global opinions about monetary policy is worrying," he commented, explaining that this was at odds with the fact that the world was becoming ever more complex.
Special exhibition open until mid-August
The special exhibition designed by the Bundesbank to celebrate its 60th anniversary reveals that, over the past few decades, the press has not always been sympathetic to the Bank – in fact, it has also been quite critical. The exhibition features headlines, reports and commentaries in the national and international press showing how the Bundesbank's work has been perceived in the media. It not only covers global events such as the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1989 or the financial crisis of 2008, but also includes anecdotes about the Bundesbank as an institution.
The special exhibition "Guardian of the currency – 60 years of the Bundesbank in the eyes of the media" is open to the public until 15 August. The Money Museum is located at the Bundesbank's Central Office, Wilhelm-Epstein-Strasse 14, 60431 Frankfurt am Main. Admission is free. The museum, including the exhibition, is open from 9.00 to 17.00 on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays and from 9.00 to 20.00 on Wednesdays