Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Central Bankers - What are They Good For? Absolutely Nothing!

Central Bankers
The 'monarchs of money' and the war on savers
Power Shift: First in a series on the rise of the central bankers and the global imposition of cheap credit
By Neil Macdonald
CBC News
Apr 29, 2013
Quietly, without much public fuss or discussion, a new ruling class has risen in the richer nations.
These men and women are unelected and tend to shun the publicity hogged by the politicians with whom they co-exist.
They are the world's central bankers. Every six weeks or so, they gather in Basel, Switzerland, for secret discussions and, to an extent at least, they act in concert.
The decisions that emerge from those meetings affect the entire world. And yet the broad public has a dim understanding, if any, of the job they do.
In fact, these individuals now wield at least as much influence over the lives of ordinary citizens as prime ministers and presidents.The tool they have used to change the world so profoundly is one they alone possess: creating money out of thin air.
There is an economic term for this: quantitative easing. More colloquially, it's called printing money.
Since the great economic meltdown in 2008, these central bankers have probably saved the world's economy from collapse, and dragged it into the unknown at the same time.
The amounts they have created are so vast as to be almost incomprehensible — trillions of dollars in pounds and euros, among other currencies.
At the end of 2012, the balance sheets of the world's largest central banks, those of the G20 nations and the eurozone, including Sweden and Switzerland, totalled $17.4 trillion US, according to Bank of Canada calculations from publicly available data.
What's their legacy?
When the record of the 2008 global financial catastrophe is fully written — that story remains a work in progress — the world's central bankers will emerge either as heroes, or as the people who administered a cure that turned out to be as bad as the disease.
Three of them in particular will go down in history: Ben Bernanke of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank, and Canada's own Mark Carney, soon to be the governor of the Bank of England.
That is nearly a quarter of global GDP, and slightly more than double the $8.5 trillion these same institutions were holding at the end of 2007, before the financial crisis hit.
Stock markets have risen on this tide of cheap money. So has real estate. So, arguably, has everything else.
But there are two big concerns with what this new central banker elite has done.
One is that no one really understands the consequences of pumping such vast amounts of money into the world economy. It's already distorted the prices of certain assets, and some fear hyperinflation or market crashes are inevitable (the subject of tomorrow's column).
The other is that it's caused a massive shift in wealth, from savers to borrowers, and is taking money out of the pockets of almost everyone approaching or at retirement age.
A war on savings
Probably the most painful of the consequences of quantitative easing has been borne by the elderly.
Most of that generation grew up believing that if you save and exercise prudence that you will earn at least a modest return on your hard-earned money to keep you comfortable in your old age, perhaps along with a pension.
But the money-printing orgy of the last five years looks to have shot that notion to smithereens.
Very deliberately, the central bankers have punished savers, pushing interest rates so low that any truly safe investment — and older people are always advised to play it safe — yields a negative return when inflation is factored in.
British pensioners Judy White and her husband Alan, at their home in Teddington, south of London: 'I now have 50 per cent less.' CBC
The policy has savaged pension and savings returns worldwide, but particularly in Britain, a nation of savers and pensioners.
There is more money in British pension funds than in the rest of Europe combined, and now that money is just sitting, "dead," as some call it, not working for its owners.
Ask Judy White, a retiree in her late 60s who lives in Teddington, south of London, with her husband, Alan.
This year, the Bank of England shattered her retirement. Her pension benefit was effectively slashed by half.
"I don't understand what quantitative easing is, except that it's printing money," she says. "But I do understand that I now have 50 per cent less.
"What they have done is take money from people who have been really careful all their lives."
On the backs of the virtuous
Actually, by the Bank of England's own reckoning, the £375 billion of quantitative easing it has carried out since 2008 has cost British savers and pensioners about £70 billion, roughly $100 billion. (At the same time, the richest 10 per cent of British households saw the value of their assets increase over the same period, the bank reported.)
That cost to the elderly is largely because pension payouts in the U.K. are pegged to the yields on government bonds, and quantitative easing has forced those yields down to almost nothing.
Speaking for the Bank of England, Paul Fisher acknowledges that the bank has created a paradox: It does want people to save and be prudent — just not right now.
"We try," he says, "to get people to do things now to get out of this mess, which in the long run we prefer not to do."
In other words, might we please have some more of the wild consumer spending and borrowing that helped get us all into this situation, at least for a while?
Ros Altmann, a governor at the London School of Economics: 'A monumental social experiment.' CBC
The plain fact, though, is that central bank- and government-imposed solutions to disasters caused by irresponsible, greedy, foolish behaviour are almost always carried out on the backs of the virtuous.
So it was with the bank rescues in 2008, and so it is with quantitative easing.
As Ros Altmann, a longtime pension manager and director of the London School of Economics, puts it, quantitative easing has amounted to a "monumental social experiment" — a large-scale transfer of wealth from older people to younger people.
"Anybody who was a saver and has got some accumulated savings will have had a reduction in their income," she says.
While "anyone who had a big debt, particularly mortgage debts, would have had improvement in their income because their interest payments have gone down."
As stupid as it might sound, older people everywhere would probably be better off if they'd abandoned prudence and borrowed more.
That is obviously not what the central bankers or our political leaders want. But that's the situation they've created.
What's the alternative?
This transfer from savers to borrowers has also been taking place here in the U.S. and in Canada, to varying degrees.
Some U.S. pension funds are in danger of default, at least partially because of these artificially low interest rates, and Canadian pension funds that are heavily invested in safer debt have been injured, too.
In an interview in his Ottawa office, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney defends quantitative easing elsewhere, and his own low-interest rate policy, though he does acknowledge that it has been hard on pensioners and savers.
Like all central bankers, he argues the (impossible to prove) negative: There have been consequences, yes, but if we hadn't done this, things would be far, far worse.
As for carrying out these solutions on the backs of the virtuous: "I don't see a world where the virtuous are rewarded if we suffered a second Depression," he says. "These are the stakes."
Carney would prefer not to talk about the enormous power central bankers have gained since 2008, saying only: "We have a tremendous responsibility … because of a series of mistakes that were made in the private sector and the public sector."
See the surge in central bank holdings, the printing of new money, beginning in the spring of 2008 with the bank bailouts and the acquistion of long-term securities to keep interest rates down.
International Monetary Fund
As Canada has performed better than most Western nations, Carney has not ordered any new money printing.
But he has kept interest rates down, and that has fed the real estate booms over the last few years in Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary and elsewhere.
He scoffs at the suggestion that "the party" will end at some point. "I am not sure we are having a party right now," he says. "It doesn't feel like a party."
And, in fact, he has repeatedly expressed concern at the huge debt levels Canadians are accruing, at least partly because of his low-rate policies.
But surely he understands the anger of an older person watching their savings being eroded, I ask him.
Carney smiles grimly. That question is clearly a sore point. He gets a lot of mail on the topic.
Canadians, he says, must understand that the alternative is massive unemployment and thousands of businesses going under, and "my experience with Canadians is that they tend to think about their neighbours and their children and more broadly … they care a little bit more than just about themselves."
Asked whether central bankers are not in fact enabling irresponsible behaviour by speculators enamoured of cheap money, not to mention politicians who can't curb their borrowing and spending, Carney merely remarks that voters in a democracy get the governments they choose.
The illusion of growth
How central bank stimulus is creating a global 'bubble economy.' Power Shift, part 2
By Neil Macdonald
CBC News Apr 30, 2013


Mark Grant sits on the aft deck of his yacht in South Florida's spring sun, ostentatiously relishing his wealth as only an American does, and dispensing advice. He's made his money, and he likes to wear it.
Grant's personality is as big as his mansion and as flashy as his collection of exotic cars — he actually calls himself "The Wizard," a tribute to his own financial acumen.
While we are talking, his cellphone rings intermittently, and the callers are usually serious moneymen. Bill Gross of Pimco, the world's largest bond agency, is a friend; his praise adorns the dust jacket of Grant's recent book.
Inevitably, the callers are seeking investment advice.
A nearly 40-year Wall Street veteran, Grant is currently the managing director of a Texas-based investment bank and the author of a daily must-read investment commentary called Out of the Box.
His advice these days to tycoons and small investors alike is simple and direct. For heaven's sake, seek safety. Preserve your capital. "Keep what you have."
To Grant, the central banks' money printing has distorted the financial universe beyond any sensible dimensions.
The Federal Reserve alone is churning out $85 billion a month, or just over a $1 trillion a year. The combined balance sheets (which reflect created money) for the European Central Bank and the 17 individual banks of the eurozone stand at $3.45 trillion.
The Bank of England, the most energetic money printer in the world relative to the size of the economy it serves, has printed £375 billion (roughly $576 billion US), and is probably going to print more. The Bank of Japan has just launched an aggressive money-printing program of its own, planning to double the size of its balance sheet within two years.
The surge in 'new money' on central bank balance sheets since 2008. International Monetary Fund
In all, at the end of 2012, the balance sheets of the world's largest central banks, those of the G20 nations and the eurozone, including Sweden and Switzerland, totalled $17.4 trillion US, according to Bank of Canada calculations from publicly available data.
That is nearly a quarter of global GDP, and slightly more than double the $8.5 trillion these same institutions were holding at the end of 2007, before the financial crisis hit.
The idea behind all this central bank largesse is to reflate the world's money supply after the disastrous meltdown of 2008 and, at the same time, push interest rates down as far as possible in an attempt to get people — and companies — borrowing and spending again.
To date, however, the results have been mixed. The U.S. economy has been inching forward, while Britain's is teetering on a triple dip into recession. Much of Europe is also deep in recession and sinking under the weight of high unemployment.
Whether the massive money-printing program known as quantitative easing has prevented an even worse situation is debatable. But this much is certain: It's simply impossible to unleash such economic forces without serious consequences, intended and unintended.
Bubble economies
Just about everyone agrees the Dow Jones industrial average — the measure of blue-chip America — did not reach an all-time high recently because of vibrant economic growth or fabulous performance by the companies listed in that index.
Markets are where they are principally because the Federal Reserve has been gobbling up U.S. treasury bills, the safest investment on Earth, in a deliberate attempt to force private investors into riskier assets, like stocks.
It's a high-stakes form of market engineering.
The Fed has been acting in rare concert with central banks worldwide to encourage borrowing and spending — and risk. And because all the new money being unleashed has to flow somewhere, it's been flowing, among other places, into the equity markets.
At the same time, the super-low interest rates resulting from all this money printing have heated up real estate markets in big cities worldwide — Toronto and Vancouver being perfect examples.
Grant says the markets and governments have developed an addiction to easy, cheap money to finance irresponsible borrowing.
"All this printing of money is creating a market that rests on a fantasy," he says.
For the first time ever, there isn't a single bubble out there, but an "entire world in a bubble. Every asset class, everything you can think of. Everything is in a bubble and something is going to prick it.
"The party," he says with great certainty, "is going to end."
An enormous bet Think-tank economists, who rely on econometric models and speak a language so encoded as to be incomprehensible to most people, tend to look down their noses at analysts like Grant, referring to them as "the newsletter crowd."

Cheap credit is fuelling stock market runs and new home buying in much of North America. But in places like Spain, bank problems have led to repossessed homes, little construction and huge protests in the streets. Associated Press / Reuters / Reuters
But Grant has shown prescience. He was among the very first to predict Greece's financial implosion, and he has correctly pointed up the book-cooking and outright fraud in other eurozone economies.
He is also far from the only one contemplating a bad ending.
Recently, the Bank of International Settlement in Basel echoed Grant's concern that markets are developing an easy-money habit; and the International Monetary Fund just published a paper acknowledging the possibility of all this money printing (which it calls "monetary policy plus") creating widespread bubbles and difficult adjustments down the road.
Ros Altmann, a pension manager and a governor of the London School of Economics, compares quantitative easing to treating a sick patient with medication that doesn't work, and then, when the patient gets sicker, administering even more.
"It must stop," she says. "It is hugely dangerous. I think history will judge this period very harshly."
Still, the central bankers have at least as many fans as they do critics.
Don Johnston, the former president of the Treasury Board in the Trudeau government and a former director of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, admires them greatly.
"I think they have more credibility than politicians," he says, "and it's been very fortunate that nearly all central banks are independent of the political arm."
Johnston concedes that the central banks' power at the moment is "immense." But he adds: "We had a big fire, and they absolutely had a critical role to play, and they played it, I think, extremely well."
Still, even Johnston, with his deep experience in government finances, allows that he doesn't fully understand the complexities of today's monetary policy, and the arguments for or against opening the spigots as much as they have been.
By acting in concert to push the world in the same direction, the central bankers have made some enormous bets. And, says Johnson, "they'd better be right."
The trouble is, they've been wrong in the recent past.
Central bank economic forecasts in recent years have sometimes been well off the mark, meaning they, too, can be acting on mistaken assumptions.
Also, even someone as seemingly omniscient as Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chief through the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush years, publicly admitted his blunder in refusing to regulate the murky world of credit default swaps, which acted as accelerant in the 2008 disaster.
How to 'unwind'
Conservative economists have predicted for years that expanding the money supply will inevitably lead to inflation, or even hyperinflation. That, of course, has not happened in this instance, mainly because there's been so little economic growth and because the world is awash in the production of consumer goods.
Stability risks In a recent report, the International Monetary Fund sets out three big "stability risks" it sees in unwinding all this quantitative easing:
That a prolonged period of low-interest rates might affect the solvency, and maybe the level of risk-taking, of banks, pension funds and life insurance companies that require regular yield to keep afloat.
That, conversely, a quick interest rate spike could weaken loan performances and also hurt banks' bottom line.
That unco-ordinated exit plans by the central banks might lead to currency devaluations and trade wars if certain central banks and their governments decide to go their own way.
But the big question, nearly everyone agrees, is whether the central banks can "unwind" the unprecedented situation they've created without massive disruption (not least to their own balance sheets, which are now stuffed with long-term, low-interest bearing bonds as part of the quantitative easing).
It's an impossible question to answer.
The financial markets scrutinize the abbreviated minutes after every meeting of the Federal Reserve committee that authorizes QE, looking for any sign money printing is about to end.
That ending would signal a rise, perhaps even a sharp one, in interest rates, which could hit the housing market hard.
Homeowners with only a small amount of equity and who are already stretched to the limit would be sorely stressed.
Significant interest rate changes could also affect banks, pension funds and insurance companies, as well as small businesses that have been relying on cheap credit to expand payrolls.
And higher interest rates would also slam into government budgets. Politicians have come to rely on cheap money to finance their borrowing and spending.
Of course, the top people at the Bank of England, the Federal Reserve and the Bank of Canada all argue a return to normalcy can be managed.
Just as the central banks have the power to create money, says Canada's Mark Carney, they have the power to pull money out of the system, and will, slowly, as growth returns.
They can begin selling off the assets they've bought with all this new money, and they have the all-important power to set central interest rates. If growth takes off, in fact, they will have to do those things in order to contain inflation.
But no "unwind" will happen soon, says Carney. "The repair is ongoing."
In Florida, Mark Grant tells his clients that there are no good endings to all this, "only less bad endings."
One of the big causes of the 2008 meltdown was too much cheap money, he notes, "and there's a lot more now."
Mainstream economists can't agree on whether an orderly unwind can happen. But then, as Don Johnston points out, "economists don't know what they don't know."
Meanwhile, the central bankers all seem to have landed on the same side of the issue, and are marching in step, urging people to borrow and spend for the good of all.
"Ultimately," says Carney, "history will judge whether we got this right."

The secretive world of printing money
The case for more public scrutiny of the central banks. Power Shift 3
By Neil Macdonald,
Consider this: As America agonizes and argues over the pain of government cuts totalling about $85 billion next year, the U.S. Federal Reserve is printing that much every month.
Its current balance sheet — the amount of money it has created, the bulk of it in the past five years — stands at $3.2 trillion, about twice Canada's entire annual economic output.
The European Central Bank's balance sheet is even higher at $3.45 trillion, and others, like Japan, are racing to catch up.
G20 finance ministers and central bankers meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Catherine Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace on February 15.
The central bankers
When the record of the 2008 global financial catastrophe is fully written — that story remains a work in progress — the leaders of the world's central banks will emerge either as heroes, or the people who administered a cure that turned out to be as bad as the disease.
As of late last year, these central banks had printed about $17.4 trillion in new money, just over half of it in the past five years. That total is roughly a quarter of the annual economic output of the entire planet, and stock markets, banks and real estate have risen on this tide of cheap money.
Three of these bankers in particular will go down in history: Ben Bernanke of the U.S. Federal Reserve, Mario Draghi of the European Central Bank, and Canada's own Mark Carney, soon to be the governor of the Bank of England.
The world's central bankers are, in a sense, modern alchemists: They create these unimaginable sums of money out of binary electronic signals — to buy, among other things, government and retail bank debt and securities — with a few strokes of computer keys.
It's not an act they allow to be filmed or otherwise recorded. Actually, they permit very little recording of anything they do.
The plain fact is that these central bankers, Canada's Mark Carney among them, are executing what is perhaps the most profoundly important public policy of our time — an unprecedented printing of money and lowering of interest rates — with little in the way of public debate.
Such debate that is taking place is at rarefied levels among macroeconomists and other academics, or in the feverish blogs of the far right, whose members tend to see government conspiracy in just about everything.
But at least they're paying attention. Much of the mainstream media, fixated as it is on political horse races, is largely ignoring what's happening. There are honourable exceptions — economics specialists in certain newspapers and business-focused cable channels — but they are few.
The general public mostly hasn't a clue. Neither do many elected politicians, judging by some of the things they say publicly about the subject.
Hiding the bad news
What these bankers do with this new money they print is buy government debt, or shore up failing banks or teetering national economies or industries like housing or insurance, part of the policy they call quantitative easing.
They say, and many respectable experts support them, that quantitative easing has saved entire economies from imploding.
They also say — high priest-like — that they must keep the details of their discussions secret because their words could be misinterpreted, and entire markets could move on a misunderstanding.
And they stress they are operating entirely within the mandates given them by elected governments.
That's as may be.
It's also true the central bankers did not ask for the immense power they now exercise.
It was thrust upon them because the private sector made enormous, stupid, ruinous blunders, and because elected politicians were too terrified to make all the deeply unpopular decisions, like whether to let more banks fail, that had to be made when the financial meltdown started feeding on itself.
Politicians, given the chance, kick the can down the road; central bankers act.
But because of their mandate to maintain economic stability, they like to hide the bad news, or obscure it with vague euphemisms.
The transcripts of the U.S. Federal Reserve meetings make fascinating reading, even though they're only published five years after the decisions are made.
But the tone is a bit patronizing. Transparency and informing the public is clearly not high on the governors' agenda. They have drawn what one British financial regulator called a "veil of ignorance" around the subject of money printing.
"They see something coming, they may be right, they may be wrong. But they are bound not to tell the folks what they feel and see for fear that it will upset the system," says William Greider, an author and keen student of the U.S. Federal Reserve.
In Canada, Britain and Europe, central banks never release transcripts of internal discussions.
But while economists are divided on the wisdom of all this money printing, the central bankers aren't: They've marched together, to the same tune, since 2008, making a giant collective bet.
Don't tell the punters
Not since early last century, when the central bankers of Great Britain, Germany, France and Europe acted in concert to try to remediate the market crash of 1929, has such a radical policy been implemented on such a global basis.
Of course, those central bankers of yore did the exact opposite of quantitative easing. They actually tightened the money supply, and are generally blamed for having created the Great Depression.
That bit of history goes a long way to explain why today's central bankers are running the printing presses almost nonstop.
But there are huge implications for everyone in what's happening.
Some economists warn it will lead to inflation, or hyperinflation. So far, it hasn't because consumers, investors, and businesses, still nervous and wary, have sat on what cash they have, rather than embark on the sort of spending sprees the central banks are now trying to encourage.
But certainly all this QE has distorted asset prices, and pushed some stock markets to all-time highs.
It has also fuelled heavy borrowing and real estate bubbles in parts of the world. And it has punished people with savings, older people especially, by artificially depressing interest rates and the return on their money.
Should the money printing continue?
In the U.S., the far right sees the practice as a government conspiracy to destroy the money system.
Some days it feels like almost every second advertisement on Fox News these past few years has been for gold, supposedly the eternal hedge. Some crackpots are even planting survival gardens in anticipation of systemic failure.
The political left supports even more money printing, along the lines that Japan has recently embarked upon (a doubling over the next two years).
Among the suggestions: Lend directly to companies that need credit. Send free money to every household. Do whatever is needed to kick-start growth.
The fact is, it's impossible to know where all this is going, or whether the central banks, having addicted governments and consumers to cheap money, can close the money taps without enormous disruption to the system.
But it's something that screams for public discussion.
"It may be time for modern citizens to get educated about their own capitalism," says Greider, who says there is nothing democratically healthy about the bankers' opaque discussions and decisions on a scale like this.
Lord Adair Turner, the outgoing chairman of Britain's now-defunct banking regulator (the Financial Services Authority), summed up the bankers' attitude in February in a speech at London's City University. (It was there he spoke of "the veil of ignorance" in which bankers like to shroud their handiwork.)
Considered a front-runner last year for the Bank of England's top job (the one that went to Mark Carney), Turner suggested that the times are so dire that the central bank should consider simply printing every pound the British government needed to borrow, effectively monetizing its deficits, a practice, he concedes, that is generally considered taboo.
The problem in doing that, said Turner, is telling the hoi-polloi.
"Once we tell the populace and the popular press and the backbenchers of Parliament that this is possible, they'll want to do it not only in the one year out of 100 when it's appropriate, and not only in a reasonable amount, but all the time and in excessive amounts to try and win the next election."
Turner is right, to an extent. Politicians can certainly be pusillanimous fools, and voters uninformed. It would be nice if they weren't, but it is ultimately their right.
Still, unelected officials that operate at the behest of governments have no business cloaking such profound decisions. Few topics deserve more attention.

The Monarchs of Money
Important figures in the world of international finance
Apr. 25, 2013

Mark Carney

Governor, Bank of Canada since 2008; Chair, Financial Stability Board since 2011
Born: March 16, 1965 in Fort Smith, N.W.T.
Previous experience:
Senior associate deputy finance minister, 2004-2008Deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, 2003-2004
Thirteen years working at Goldman Sachs, managing director for the Canadian division in 2002
Education: Bachelors degree in economics from Harvard University, master's and doctorate degree in economics from Oxford University
Quote: "If some institutions feel pressure today, it is because they have done too little for too long, rather than because they are being asked to do too much, too soon." — Carney on tougher rules for financial markets in 2011.


Mario Draghi

President of the European Central Bank since 2011
Born: Sept. 3, 1947 in Rome, Italy
Previous experience:
Bank of Italy governor, 2005-2011Chair of Financial Stability Board, 2006-2011
Vice chairman and managing director, Goldman Sachs International, 2002-2005
Italian treasury director general, 1991-2001
Executive director, World Bank, 1984-1990
Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Universita degli Studi, Rome
Quote: "There is no going back to the lira or the drachma or to any other currency. It is pointless to bet against the euro. It is pointless to go short on the euro. That was the message. It is pointless because the euro will stay and it is irreversible." — on the euro in 2012.


Ben Bernanke

Chair, U.S. Federal Reserve since 2006
Born: Dec. 13, 1953 in Augusta, G.A.
Previous experience:Member of Federal Reserve board of governors, 2002-2005Member of the Academic Advisory Panel at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, 1990-2002
Economics professor at Stanford and Princeton
 Education: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University
Quote:"If the crisis has a single lesson, it is that the too-big-to-fail problem must be solved," — to a federal panel investigating the recent financial crisis in 2010.


Mervyn King

Governor, Bank of England since 2003
Born: March 30, 1948 in Chesham, England
Previous experience:
Bank deputy governor, 1998-2003
Chief economist and executive director, 1991-1998
Former professor of economics at London School of Economics
Education: King's College (Cambridge) and Harvard
Quote: "The balance sheets of too many banks were an accident waiting to happen" — on the risks taken before the financial crash of 2008.


Jens Weidmann

President, Deutsche Bundesbank since 2011
Born: April 20, 1968 in Solingen, Germany
Previous experience:
Head of the department for economic and fiscal policy at the Chancellor's Office, 2006-2011
Head of the Bundesbank's monetary policy and analysis division, 2003-2006
Education: PhD from University of Bonn in 1997; studied economics at Aix-Marseille III and Bonn universities
Quote: "Overcoming the crisis and the crisis effects will remain a challenge over the next decade" — on the European debt crisis, in April 2013.


Haruhiko Kuroda

Governor, Bank of Japan since April 2013
Born: Oct. 25, 1944 in Fukoka, Japan
Previous experience:
President of the Asian Development Bank, 2005-2013
Vice minister of finance, 1998-2003
First joined Japan's Ministry of Finance in April, 1967
Education: B.A. in Law, University of Tokyo; M.Phil. in Economics, Oxford
Quote: "I intend to pursue bold monetary easing, both in scale and in quality." — to a Japanese parliamentary hearing on his appointment to the bank in 2013.