Central bankers hate uncertainty. So a British exit from the European Union was a headache that the world’s monetary policy guardians certainly did not need.
But central bankers are also known for being well prepared. On Friday morning, Mark Carney, head of the Bank of England, stepped before the cameras to assure the British people that, despite his many warnings over the past few months about the negative consequences of a Brexit, the country’s economy will be kept afloat.
The British central bank had prepared extensively for this moment, Mr. Carney said, even if the polls had predicted a different outcome for Thursday’s referendum. His institution stands ready to act, to prop up the financial sector if need be, including by providing liquidity to banks if necessary.
The European Central Bank in Frankfurt was no different. Even though Britain is not a member of the 19-nation euro zone, it will be up to the ECB president Mario Draghi’s institution to prevent the Brexit from impacting too drastically on the currency bloc.
In a statement, the ECB said it “stands ready to provide additional liquidity, if needed, in euro and foreign currencies.”
Speeches by Mr. Carney and at the ECB didn’t stop the British pound from falling to its lowest value in more than 30 years on Friday morning though. But then, that wasn’t the point. A radical fall in the pound’s value, as harrowing as it may have been, was widely considered inevitable by currency traders and central bankers.