Archive for the ‘Speech / Interviews’ Category

How about Dr. Rajan taking a deep breath?

November 14, 2013

It was kinda amusing to read this statement from RBI’s still new Governor. So now each time the market declines, we will get a statement from RBI Governor saying all is well? I am also not sure about this whole personalisation of RBI. In the past, one usually saw such statements coming from RBI and not from the Governor. It reflected a more collective and institutional spirit of the central bank. Now it seems there is this whole agenda to create celebrity out of RBI Governor.


Comparing a Central bank to Lord Hanuman..

November 12, 2013

Mr Jwala Rambarran, Governor of the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago has this really interesting speech.

CB of T&T has started celebrating Diwali lately. In addition, this year they celebrate spirit of Lord Hanuman:


Comparing EU crisis with Japan and East Asia

October 30, 2013

These comparative approaches help a great deal. You get a sense of how do current crisis/events compare with orevious such events.

Benoît Coeuré of the European Central Bank points to similarities and differences between the three crises:


Interview of Prof. Richard Thaler..

October 23, 2013

Minneapolis Fed’s Region mag has this terrific interview of Prof. Richard Thaler.

The interview as expected questions the basis of the rational school. It is full of anecdotes over how he met Kahneman/Tversky, his struggle to get into mainstream economics, his venture into behavioral finance (he never imagined that it will be finance where behavioral theories  will have the maximum impact, his disagreements with Fama and so on.


How subway (train) fares have not changed in Japan since 1995

October 21, 2013

Haruhiko Kuroda, Governor of the Bank of Japan talks on deflation in Japan.

He has some interesting facts on deflation in Japan:


Making Ghana’s financial system more efficient.. (via government intervention..)

October 10, 2013

A nice speech by Mr Henry A Kofi Wampah, Governor of the Bank of Ghana.

When one talks about making markets efficient, the usual thought is get the government out and let the markets be free. And then will come the invisible hand and there will be magic. Despite many people showing the flaw with this thinking, it remains in the minds of people and particularly media. 

So here is this interesting tale of Nigeria.


What, Why and How of Retail Banking: Issues and Challenges

October 8, 2013

Nice speech from Dr KC Chakrabarty of RBI.

He gets to basics of banking and how the banking system has evolved over the years:


A brief history of finance and Prof Fama’s life at Chicago

October 7, 2013

A short and nice article on how Fama came to finance and how finance has developed over the years.

It is amazing to note how top econs/fin guys cite role of serendipity/luck in choosing economics and  right areas. it is even more ironical how little econs count luck as a factor in analysing economic developments:


Basics of Development Financial Institutions and the interesting case of IDBI….

October 4, 2013

A brilliant speech by Dr KC Chakrabarty.

It gives you the basics of Development Financial Institutions (DFI) from a corporate finance angle. How are DFIs different from Commercial Banks? CBs get retail deposits whereas DFIs rely on things like bonds etc. On assets side, the credit given by CBs is based on collateral but for DFIs it is based on project viability:


Hayek and his influence on Czech transition

September 30, 2013

Václav Klaus has served as finance minister, prime minister, and president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. He helped lead his country out of communism, through a peaceful separation, and into the modern world.

He gave a lecture at Cato Institute which is quite a read.


Why institutions matter (more than ever)

September 24, 2013

Andy Haldane once again. I mean what speeches one gets to read from him.

This one on institutions (slightly dated though) becomes an immediate read for those which have not read. It is one of those speeches which touches on so many aspects of institutional economics. It is just amazing by all means.

He points how two forces – information and integration (of economies) mean institutions are more important than ever. Integration leads to world economy becoming more connected leading to one player affecting the whole system. Whereas too much of information is making the attention span shorter and unable to focus on long term aspects.  We need institutions with long term memory:


Why people hate economists?

September 3, 2013

A really interesting speech by Prof. Austan Goolsbee of U of Chicago (HT: Prof. Marek Hlavac’s website).

He looks at reasons why people hate econs (and why they don’t care, yes it in brackets). And moreover much of the hatred is reserved for U Chicago.

Nice read..



Will ECB publish its MPC minutes??

August 1, 2013

If ECB starts to publish minutes of its MPC, it is likely to be as exciting as any thriller.

Two members of its executive committee Benoît Coeuré and Jörg Asmussen in a joint interview say that ECB should publish its minutes:


Crisis economics – the crisis as a challenge for economists

June 27, 2013

Much has been written on this issue but there is always scope for more.

Dr Jens Weidmann, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank speaks on the topic. He begins comparing econs with seismologists:


Why financial stability is a necessary prerequisite for an effective monetary policy??

June 26, 2013

Not a long time ago, we were lectured on how mon stability is all that matters to financial stability. It was seen as a necessary and sufficient condition for some and necessary condition for most. The logic was not difficult to beat as it took a while for central bankers to tame the inflation beast and hence they kept emphasizing on the idea. And then things like great moderation etc made them overconfident and stretched the idea even more.

Now, the tide has turned. So much so, the speech titles have just become reverse like this one from NY Fed chief – Bill Dudley. He titles it as  - Why financial stability is a necessary prerequisite for an effective monetary policy? The speech is given during Andrew Crockett First Memorial Lecture given by Prof. Rajan.

So why do we need to have Fin Stab is necessary for effective mon policy?


A step in the dark: unconventional monetary policy after the crisis

June 25, 2013

It is really nice to read such research from Raghu Rajan. He should stay away from FinMin speeches and actually talk like he did earlier and does it here.

He speaks on the topic at the First Andrew Crockett memorial lecture. Raghu Rajan has always been a critique of using the easy liquidity policies and Keynesian policies to resolve the crisis. He is more in the camp of need for structural policies for structural crisis.

He begins quoting Crockett who alongwith BIS officials did not buy the idea that mon stability leads to financial stability. Like Minsky they argued, the bubble is around the corner and c-bank should look at financial stability and macrofinancial/ macroprudential risks. He then discusses the causes of the crisis an the policies to mitigate the crisis. Finally he looks at the theories behind the policies taken and unintended consequences of the unconv. policies.

In the end:


Five years in BIS Tower and figuring lessons from the global crisis

June 24, 2013

Mr Stephen G Cecchetti of BIS reflects on his 5 years in BIS and lessons going forward.

He says there are two lessons for econ researchers:

  1. Quantities matter more than we thought.
  2. Moral hazard is worse than we thought. 

For policymakers, there are 3 insights:

1) Short-term interest rates are not enough.
2) High debt levels are a drag on growth.
3) Market discipline is not enough.

Nice bit..

How Greg Mankiw became an economist?

June 18, 2013

Well, Prof Mankiw’s blog and research followers know he was a math guy first and then moved into econ.

Here is a more elaborate version of what actually happened. He realised he is not good enough in Math as others are and then moved into economics based on what someone in college told him about the subject.

This is part of a commencement lecture he gave recently at a school. He discusses the key moments in his life. He draws four lessons from his life experiences:


Profile of Carmen Reinhart

June 3, 2013

Blogging has been really poor recently and is totally against the wishes of the blogger. ME hopes to resolve the issues in a few days and blog much more over the coming days. I keep wondering whether our econ models which sing wide praises on labor mobility know the hassles involved in the same. More on this later.

Anyways, whatever little I can lay my hands on am sharing with people. Came across this interview/profile of Carmen Reinhart, the econ much in focus. It is in IMF’s quarterly publication – F&D whose theme is another hot topic – women empowerment.

Interesting to note that Reinhart wanted to be into fashion. Like most top econs, she too came into eco by chance:

Had Miami Dade College offered a concentration in fashion design, Carmen Reinhart might never have become an economist.

Reinhart—the world’s most-cited female economist and coauthor of one of the most important economic books of the past decade—studied fashion merchandising instead.­

“I like art a great deal, and I like drawing. And I thought that, well, I really didn’t go to the right school to become a fashion designer. So, let me see whether I like fashion merchandising.”

She didn’t.­

“Fashion merchandising is how to become a buyer. It has really little to do with any kind of design . . . the artistic part of it.” She was convinced she’d made a poor choice.­

But the merchandising curriculum required her to take a course on the principles of economics. Her instructor, “a crazy old Marxist,” paired a standard textbook with Douglas F. Dowd’s critique of U.S. capitalism, The Twisted Dream. “And I found it fascinating . . . . I didn’t make a decision, ‘Oh, I’m going to become an economist.’ No, I made the decision that I was going to take more economics courses and see how I liked them. And I did.”

Nice bit. Discusses her work on crisis and long association with Ken Rogoff.


What does economic history mean and the discipline of economic historian connote?

May 31, 2013

A brilliant interview of a brilliant econ historian – Barry Eichengreen .

He is asked this very important q on what econ history means and what do econ historians do?

This probably brings us back full circle. We started with the uses and misuses of economic history and we’ve been talking about economic history throughout the conversation. I think it might be helpful to hear your perspective on what economic history and economic historians are. Why not just an economist who works in history or a historian who works on topics of economics? What does the term “economic history” mean, and what does the professional discipline of economic historian connote to you?

Eichengreen: As the name suggests, one is neither fish nor fowl; neither economist nor historian. This makes the economic historian a trespasser in other people’s disciplines, to invoke the phrase coined by the late Albert Hirschman. Historians reason by induction while economists are deductive. Economists reason from theory while historians reason from a mass of facts. Economic historians do both. Economists are in the business of simplifying; their strategic instrument is the simplifying assumption. The role of the economic historian is to say “Not so fast, there’s context here. Your model leaves out important aspects of the problem, not only economic but social, political, and institutional aspects – creating the danger of providing a misleading guide to policy.”

Hmm…I actually don’t understand why econ historians are not given their due. They have such interesting things to share. Later on this..

Is the crisis another missed opportunity to reemphasize the importance of history?

Sniderman: Do you think that, in training PhD economists, there’s a missed opportunity to stress the value and usefulness of economic history? Over the years, economics has become increasingly quantitative and math-focused. From the nature of the discussion we’ve had, it is clear that you don’t approach economic history as sort of a side interest of “Let’s study the history of things,” but rather a disciplined way of integrating economic theory into the context of historical episodes. Is that way of thinking about economic history appreciated as much as it could be?

Eichengreen: I should emphasize that the opportunity is not entirely missed. Some top PhD programs require an economic history course of their PhD students, the University of California, Berkeley, being one. The best way of demonstrating the value of economic history to an economist, I would argue, is by doing economic history. So when we teach economic history to PhD students in economics in Berkeley, we don’t spend much time talking about the value of history. Instead, we teach articles and address problems, and leave it to the students, as it were, to figure how this style of work might be applied to this own research. For every self-identifying economic historian we produce, we have several PhD students who have a historical chapter, or a historical essay, or a historical aspect to their dissertations. That’s a measure of success.

Well Sir, it is mostly missed. How many depts have opened upto history. Look am not saying we don’t need to do quant side of things and let us replace it with econ history . My contention is there is equal need for history as well. We need researchers in both disciplines. And who said history does not do quant. If one does get reasonable data there is nothing better than using quant tools to figure histiry. It helps you know more and test the history and ascertain whether history known so far was a myth or a fact.

Further, the allegation that econ history only looks at past. The interview nicely begins with this remark by the interviewer Mark Sniderman of Cleveland Fed:

To some, the term “economic historian” conjures up images of an academic whose only interests lie deep in the past; an armchair scholar who holds forth on days long ago but has no insights about the present. Barry Eichengreen provides a useful corrective to that stereotype. For, as much as Eichengreen has studied episodes in economic history, he seems more attuned to connecting the past to the present. At the same time, he is mindful that “lessons” have a way of taking on lives of their own. What’s taken as given among economic historians today may be wholly rejected in the future.

Well I ahve never really understood this allegation. Do people who work in so called present/future have anything useful to say on economic events. For instance, how many could figure the current crisis? Most did not even know how to respond to the crisis. It was the work of econ hostorians which prevented a second depression. One can suely argue whether any better steps could be taken but knowhow of history clearly played an important part. Yes there is confusion over which side of history should one look at to resolve current events. But that means more research in history and not less.

As Prof says in the first q we need to draw the right lessons:

Sniderman: It’s an honor to talk with you. You’re here at this conference to discuss the uses and misuses of economic history. Can you give us an example of how people inaccurately apply lessons from the past to the recent financial crisis?

Eichengreen: The honor is mine.

Whenever I say “lessons,” please understand the word to be surrounded by quotation marks. My point is that “lessons” when drawn mechanically have considerable capacity to mislead. For example, one “lesson” from the literature on the Great Depression was how disruptive serious banking crises can be. That, in a nutshell, is why the Fed and its fellow regulators paid such close attention to the banking system in the run-up to the recent crisis. But that “lesson” of history was, in part, what allowed them to overlook what was happening in the shadow banking system, as our system of lightly regulated near-banks is known.

What did they miss it? One answer is that there was effectively no shadow banking system to speak of in the 1930s. We learned to pay close attention to what was going on in the banking system, narrowly defined. That bias may have been part of what led policymakers to miss what was going on in other parts of the financial system.

Another example, this one from Europe, is the “lesson” that there is necessarily such a thing as expansionary fiscal consolidation. Europeans, when arguing that such a thing exists, look to the experience of the Netherlands and Ireland in the 1980s, when those countries cut their budget deficits without experiencing extended recessions. Both countries were able to consolidate but continue to grow, leading contemporary observers to argue that the same should be true in Europe today. But reasoning from that historical case to today misleads because the circumstances at both the country and global level were very different. Ireland and the Netherlands were small. They were consolidating in a period when the world economy was growing. These facts allowed them to substitute external demand for domestic demand. In addition, unlike European countries today they had their own monetary policies, allowing them step down the exchange rate, enhancing the competitiveness of their exports at one fell swoop, and avoid extended recessions. But it does not follow from their experience that the same is necessarily possible today. Everyone in Europe is consolidating simultaneously. Most nations lack their own independent exchange rate and monetary policies. And the world economy is not growing robustly.

A third “lesson” of history capable equally of informing and misinforming policy would be the belief in Germany that hyperinflation is always and everywhere just around the corner. Whenever the European Central Bank does something unconventional, like its program of Outright Monetary Transactions, there are warnings in German press that this is about to unleash the hounds of inflation. This presumption reflects from the “lesson” of history, taught in German schools, that there is no such thing as a little inflation. It reflects the searing impact of the hyperinflation of the 1920s, in other words. From a distance, it’s interesting and more than a little peculiar that those textbooks fail to mention the high unemployment rate in the 1930s and how that also had highly damaging political and social consequences.

The larger question is whether it is productive to think in terms of “history lessons.” Economic theory has no lessons; instead, it simply offers a way of systematically structuring how we think about the world. The same is true of history.

Superb read. I so hope to see econ depts opening up to history and students applying as well..


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