1. Alan Greenspan certainly has been heard from a lot since his "retirement". Apparently current club members don’t like it as Bank of England Governor Mervyn King put a brutal slam on Greenie last week (as the article details though, Alan is laughing all the way to the bank). I approve of anything that makes central banking more like professional wrestling.
2. Guillermo Ortiz (or the Alan Greenspan of Mexico) is closing in on 9 years as Head of Mexico’s central bank. He inherited an inflation rate of 19%, which was steadily reduced. It is around 4% today and much less volatile than in the past. Good job, Guillermo!
3. Central Banking, Japanese style. With the country beset and bedeviled by deflation and stagnant growth, the BOJ stuck with a virtually zero interest rate for almost 6 years before getting frisky and raising rates to .25% last July. By all accounts it was so much fun they wanted to do it again the next month but were heavily pressured by the Government to hold off. This winter they raised rates again to .5%. Now, prices and wages have started falling again in Japan, but the BOJ boys can at least hold their heads up high at the next club meeting.
4. In the US the FOMC now has an unprecedented level of academic economic expertise. Start with Chairman Bernanke, who is ranked 107 in this list of top 1000 economists by publications from 1990-2000, then add longtime MR friend Randall Kroszner (ranked 363) and Fredrick Mishkin (ranked 93). In addition, St. Louis Fed President William Poole is a voting member this year. Poole is among the top ranked economists by publications from 1969 – 2000, as is alternate member Charles Plosser, ex-editor of the Journal of Monetary Economics and President of the Philadelphia Fed (Plosser is also ranked very high on citations from 1975 – 2000). Whether this is a good or bad thing remains to be seen!
5. Finally, for those hoping that new president Sarkozy will lead real reform in France, it turns out that he has met the enemy and it is the ECB!! This doesn’t seem good to me, though after taking a lot of hits Sarkozy has apparently backed down at bit.