Archive for the ‘Speech / Interviews’ Category

The UK’s productivity problem: hub no spokes

July 16, 2018

Andy Haldane yet again. How he has made a habit of giving such amazing speeches which are so detailed and yet so simple. One could add  the phrase Haldanesque for any such future central banker speeches.

In his recent speech (40 pages), Andy talks about how UK has a productivity problem (there were talks of giving Bank of England a productivity target). Its productivity has stagnated over the years, The break-up statistics show that the largest firms continue to do well but it is mainly the smaller ones which have not withstood the test of times. Thus we see a kind of inequality in productivity distribution as well, where haves thrive and have nots barely survive. He further argues that real problem is that ideas seem to spread slowly across the economy. Thus there is hub but no spoke:

The UK faces perhaps no greater challenge, economically and socially, than its productivity challenge. Meeting that challenge would deliver benefits to workers in improved wages and skills and to companies in greater efficiency and profitability. It would also contribute to closing inequalities of income, wealth and
opportunity which have rightly and increasingly pre-occupied policymakers over recent years.

The UK has a rich, in some respects world-leading, endowment of innovation and talent. This is, however, unevenly spread. Developing an institutional infrastructure, which draws on the UK’s comparative advantage in innovation but which spreads its benefits more widely, would support the long tail of UK companies and the people who work for them. It would help close the pay and productivity gaps between the best and the  rest, the present and the past, the in-crowd and the out. It would put the rhyme back into R&D. The returns to doing so are difficult to quantify precisely. As a thought-experiment, imagine the bottom three quartiles of the UK productivity distribution saw their productivity gap with the quartile above closed. That would boost UK levels of productivity by around 13%.

This would close a large part of the productivity shortfall relative to its pre-crisis trend. And it would make inroads into closing the productivity gap with the
US and Germany. In today’s prices, it would boost the level of UK GDP by around £270 billion. In closing those gaps, a useful intermediate objective would be to create in the UK a leading-edge diffusion infrastructure, to rival and complement its leading-edge innovation infrastructure. This boost our world (and, with luck, our World Cup) rankings. Inclusive innovation could serve as a conduit to inclusive growth. The UK’s innovation hub would get the spokes it needs to reach every sector, every region, every worker. It would be an industrial strategy for everyone.

The speech was given in end of June, so obviously no World Cup is coming home..:-)

Overall, another Haldanesque speech…

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KYC’s new full-form: Know Your Culture

July 13, 2018

Interesting speech by Jay Clayton, SEC’s Chairperson. Apart from central bankers, even securities market regulators are worried over slipping culture in financial services industry.

Clayton says looking at culture is no more optional but a must.

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Comparing financial integration in Britain and France (also 4 ways types of financial history)

July 11, 2018

I just came across this lecture series organised by State Bank of Pakistan (celebrating its 70 years) in the memory of Zahid Husain, the first Governor of the bank. Quite interesting set of speakers since 1975.

The sixth lecture was given by Prof Charles Kindleberger and needless to say it a is a superb read. Prof Kindleberger discusses how financial integration differed in Britain (where finance picked up) compared to France (where it remained limited to Paris).

He points to this interesting work by Charles Jones who said there are 4 ways to write financial history:

  • Orthodox: The problem through time is to curb the tendency to overissue banknotes or overlend.  So, you will ahve authorities rising from time to time to curb this tendency. This leads to rise of a central authority such as a central bank who monpolises banknotes and regulates the credit system.
  • Heroic: Starting a particular innovation or institution which leads to manifold rise in financial activity. Like the industrial banks in India or mortgage markets and so on.
  • Populist: Opposite of orthodox where there is opposition to this centralisation and support for financial activity outside the major centre. This is especially true in case of US where there was support for so called wildcat banking despite its flaws.
  • Statist: This holds that banks were created to serve the needs of the State/Government. Jones mentioned that central banks in Canada, Australia and Argentina fit in this category.

Prof Kindleberger adds that these histories do not remain static and one keeps moving from one form to another. For instance central banks in both England and France started for Statist reasons but then diverged. Bank of England became more orthodox as it tried to curb adventurous financial activity outside of London. Whereas in Paris, there were elements of both Orthodoxy and Populism.

Just fascinating way to categorise research on financial history. Even the whole discussion on financial history of Britain and France is worth a read..

 

 

Making Paris an international financial centre via innovations…

July 9, 2018

This blog has pointed multiple times how Paris is making bids to become an  international financial centre post Brexit (one, two, three).

In this speech, Banque de France Governor, François Villeroy de Galhau, highlights how they are using an innovation approach:

Why is the Banque de France involved in financial innovation? Because we are at the crossroads of a European choice and a national ambition. The European choice is that of a federal Eurosystem, with a single monetary policy that is naturally decided centrally but whose implementation is decentralised at the level of each national central bank. The national ambition is to be the central bank for markets within the Eurosystem. For the Banque de France, this is a tradition recognised over the 20 years of the euro, backed by its high-quality teams, and is the first of our Ambitions 2020 strategic plan commitments. This is a win-win situation: for the Eurosystem – which will benefit from many of these innovations – but also for the French economy and the Paris financial centre.

Hmm…

He highlights five recent innovations done by the Banque  from developing a single market for collateral to blockchain technologies.

It’s when markets are running hot that flags need raising

June 29, 2018

Agustin Cartens in this speech:

At first glance, the skies above financial markets look sunny, notably for credit markets. Term and credit spreads as well as volatility are very low by historical standards, while valuation and asset prices are high. But, as we argue in our just-released BIS Annual Economic Report, clouds are gathering on the horizon.

Indeed, showers have already dampened spirits in some emerging markets. And worse could come if a further rise in the US dollar tightened financial conditions around the world: after all, post-crisis, companies in emerging economies and elsewhere have been all too eager to tap markets, while investors have been all too eager to oblige them.

Will the stresses remain isolated? Or should we be worried about a more intense and widespread build-up of pressure? 

Central banks still find it hard to forecast financial markets, just as meteorologists are not always successful in predicting the weather. At the BIS, we have come to appreciate how unrewarding it can be to flag risks when markets are running hot. Yet that is precisely when risks tend to be highest.

Indeed, our analysis indicates that the risks ahead are material. A decade of unusually low interest rates and large-scale central bank asset purchases may have left many market participants unprepared, and have contributed to a legacy of overblown balance sheets. Financial conditions are easier than before the financial crisis, when many investors, households, corporations and sovereigns were caught out in the rain with no umbrella. And there is no denying that the room for manoeuvre in terms of monetary and fiscal policies is narrower today than at that time.

Hmm..

Building Europe as a digital financial centre?

June 29, 2018

One one hand Europe is seen going down the drain. On the other hand, there are hopefuls. Denmark central bank chief said Europe is not doing as badly as it may sound.

Prof. Joachim Wuermeling of Bundesbank has been arguing that Brexit provides Europe an opportunity: to create a digital financial centre. in In a new speech he again makes these points.  

Ladies and gentlemen, as much as we greatly regret the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the EU, we must nonetheless look forward and consider how financial services can be delivered in the European Union in the future.

First, we need to observe the consequences of Brexit from the perspective of each individual bank. Banks have so far avoided making any major changes, not least because they are also busy coping with large-scale acute challenges and their financial implications. So it is easy to lose sight of strategic issues. It’s not just Brexit that’s shifting the tectonic plates under banking – digitalisation and regulation are two other key drivers of change. When traditional structures and markets are broken up this way, the cake will be redivided – some will lose out, but some will get a bigger slice. There is a real danger that adhering at all costs to traditional positions in London risks missing out on new opportunities in the EU – though not by everybody: those who don’t will be the winners. So I would urge you not to lose sight of medium and long-term strategic options.

Second, we also have to consider the repercussions of Brexit in terms of its impact on the EU financial market as a whole. What we are looking at here is nothing less than the financing of the European economy, especially at a time when the global economic and financial order is becoming increasingly shaky. Earlier EU initiatives – the single financial market, the banking union, and the capital markets union – all had an inward focus. And with London, Europe had an international financial centre. This will now change. Hence the question of whether we in the EU 27 should aspire to developing a globally competitive financial centre that is more than the sum of its parts here in Frankfurt, Paris, Amsterdam or Dublin. François Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de France, recently spoke of an integrated network with centres specialised in various activities – and I am thinking along the same lines, which include major efforts to harness digital potential as well.

I would like to help kick off a broad, forward-looking debate surrounding the concept of a digital financial centre of Europe.

Hmm..It is quite amazing how Europe continues to compete to have a financial centre on lines of London. This is as historical as it can get.

There are three pillars to this digi financial centre:

It’s an idea based on three pillars.

First, a networking pillar. Today, Europe’s financial services potential is spread over various locations. It does not have a cumulative effect. However, for a fully-fledged financial ecosystem to truly flourish, there needs to be enough providers and users of financial services in the local market. At present, no European financial centre can tick this box. The continental venues could, however, tap into an aggregate potential if they were to form a network in which any financial product can be bought and sold in any quantity at any time, just as you would expect from a globally competitive financial centre.

The second pillar is digitalisation. Financial centres in continental Europe need robust digital market infrastructure that leverages all the state-of-the-art digital capabilities – of which distributed ledger technology (DLT) is but one. Only then can these centres overcome fragmentation and replicate agglomeration effects of physical proximity. The Eurosystem will also be expected to contribute here, seeing as it already provides a key piece of infrastructure for payments in the shape of the TARGET system.

These first two pillars create a digital network across European financial centres. But to make the most of Europe’s potential as a “financial Amazon”, market-driven specialisation will also be needed as a third pillar. Specialisation can help deliver economies of scale, increase the potential for innovation, and achieve excellence. In an environment of “coopetition” – a neologism merging the words cooperation and competition, European financial centres could cooperate, compete and, at the same time, hone their own areas of expertise. But this is a vision for the future.

It’s a picture of the future that is also very much in our own inherent interest as a central bank, because the more that financial flows end up where our system is in force, the more we are able to promote financial and price stability as well as a strong currency.

Hmm..

21st century cash: Central banking, technological innovation and digital currencies

June 12, 2018

Of all the stuff one has read on digital currencies, this speech by Fabio Panetta is one of the best. As the Deputy Governor of the Bank of Italy, he provides a lot of clarity on the several issues regarding digital currencies.

First he discusses what digital currency mean in terms of the two functions of money: means of payment and store of value. He says the unit of account does not mean much here as a dollar in Physical notes or a dollar in digital form mean the same thing.

  • Means of Payment: He says central bank digital currency will be beneficial for people without a bank account. In terms of payments CBDC will at best just provide competition to already existing private payment systems. It will also reduce cost of cash but then costs of computing will rise.
  • Store of Value: Currently there are costs to storing physical money which will disappear with CBDC. However, there could be issues as CBDC could compete with  bank deposits leading to so called runs on banks as mentioned by other central banks. Thugh, he does not see this as a problem as banks provide much wider services and people will not easily transfer their deposits.

One needs to balance the risk and benefits:

The risks and benefits of CBDCs are two sides of the same (digital) coin, related to the role of money as a means of payment and a store of value. Recourse to a CBDC as a means of payment may well have benefits, but their precise nature is uncertain and they may still be too small to justify the introduction of a
digital currency. Moreover, the issuance of a CBDC may become less positive on balance if we take into account the potential effects on the demand for commercial bank deposits. The risks and benefits would be  affected by the characteristics of the CBDC, but in any event the risks would not disappear altogether.

The business case for introducing CBDCs remains at best unclear. However, like all issues related to technological innovation, the costs, benefits and risks of digital currencies are likely to change rapidly in the future. This suggests that central banks should continue to examine the potential effects of digital
currencies. Indeed, many of them are currently engaged in research and technical experimentation with a CBDC. The Riksbank, Bank of England, and Bank of Canada, to name a few, are actively analyzing the issue. Some have gone even further, such as the Central Bank of Uruguay, which has launched a pilot
project.14 At Banca d’Italia, we are also studying how a CBDC would impact our financial system and monetary policy, and we are working within the Eurosystem on trials using DLT, which might prove useful for a digital currency. Researchers are also actively reflecting on CBDCs. Today’s conference is a notable example.

Then he discusses some open issues like anonymity aspect of currencies:

Probably the most important issue is whether the digital currency should be traceable or whether it should be designed to guarantee, to the extent possible, anonymity. Cash has always been an incredible instrument: it allows for third-party anonymity in transactions and leaves no trace. While this implies that it is an effective means of payment for illicit activities such as money laundering, the financing of terrorism or tax evasion, it also ensures privacy for its users.

The possibility of tracing our digital transactions may have important economic and ethical implications. Imagine for a moment that payments data suggested that spending on alcohol and the probability of defaulting on a loan are positively correlated. Based on such evidence, a bank might decide to reject a loan demand by an applicant with high expenditure on alcohol, even though the correlation does not reflect any ex-ante causal relationship between these two variables but could be simply due, for example, to an ex-post common psychological factor.16 Though it may be over simplified, this example emphasizes that we need to address carefully the privacy issues that may stem from digitization, and in particular from the introduction of a CBDC. Today these risks are still
limited, as in most countries retail transactions are concluded mainly with cash, and the record of our electronic payments represents an imprecise screening device. This is changing rapidly, however.

Just who should decide on the degree of anonymity associated with the use of a CBDC? Clearly, this is more than just a technical issue, and as such, the choice does not belong to central banks alone but also to the political sphere. We need to think carefully, right now, about how to make the introduction of a CBDC fully compatible with the rights of individuals and about how to square the increasing availability of information on the private lives of each one of us in relation to our political views, state of health, or sexual orientation, with the protection of our personal freedom and with the rules that govern the functioning of a modern liberal democracy.

Hmm. This is an important public policy question.

Lots more in the speech.

Europe: An economic powerhouse in the future?

June 11, 2018

Amidst all the gloom and doom in Europe, there are some optimists as well.

In this speech, Denmark Central Bank Governor Lars Rhode, shares his more positive  outlook:

Today, I would like to highlight four observations:

First, Europe is better than its reputation. Economic performance keeps abreast with other advanced economies. The rumours of its demise are simply exaggerated.

Second, all major advanced economies will have to adjust to lower potential growth. It’s a fact, as headwind from slowing productivity growth and ageing
kicks in. Europe is no exception. 

Third, free global competition is the main driver of innovation. Europe suffers from an R&D gap relative to global hotspots. But innovation
is not a zero-sum game: Prosperous neighbours do not make Europeans worse off. In fact, productive rivalry stimulates new ideas.

Finally, Europe needs a fully developed Single Market for financial services. The Single Market has been an engine of growth for decades but is still
incomplete. The Banking Union is an important step towards allowing consumers and businesses to reap the benefits from cross-border competition. It will also
be the case for Denmark – if we join. 

He says there are three Europes:

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How to think like an economist?

June 5, 2018

Nice interview of Bill Dudley, outgoing President of NY Fed:

http://libertystreeteconomics.newyorkfed.org/2018/06/hey-economist-outgoing-new-york-fed-president-bill-dudley-on-fomc-preparation-and-thinking-like-an.html

He speaks on what it means to think like an econ and how econs differ in Wall Street and Policy:

 

Q: Lawyers sometimes refer to ‘thinking like a lawyer.’ How would you describe what it means to ‘think like an economist?’
The classic joke is that economists are ‘on the one hand…on the other hand.’ Lawyers are advocates for a given point of view and prosecute under a well-defined set of rules of law. I think of lawyers as advocates and economists as almost like a justice balance—where they’re trying to weigh the evidence very carefully to see where the preponderance of the evidence lies.

So economists may be a little bit more open-minded to the facts—not to say that lawyers aren’t, but a lawyer’s job is to do something, to advocate a position, to protect a positon. So they’re starting with a very strong
a priori view. I think economists start with a priori views, in the form of a hypothesis, but if the evidence is inconsistent then they start to change the theory and hypothesis, as opposed to arguing that the evidence is obviously not applicable.

Q: You were an economist on Wall Street before joining the Fed. What differences have you noticed between Wall Street economists and the research-oriented economists here on Liberty Street?
A big difference is that Wall Street economists cover a broad range of topics. When I was at Goldman Sachs we had four people covering the U.S. economy—they covered pretty much the gamut of all the policy issues that might have some economic content. Wall Street economists try to synthesize an abundance of information into material that’s useful for the person who’s trying to figure out the world that we live in. A research economist is trying to push the frontier of knowledge outward, so that’s a very different goal.

At the New York Fed, research economists play a hybrid role. They’re doing research that’s trying to push out that knowledge frontier. But they’re also taking all of their knowledge and analytical ability and applying it to real-world policy problems. In my mind, a good research department in a Federal Reserve Bank consists of people who are top-notch in terms of their academic qualifications and ability, and who are interested in real-world policy problems—which creates a tremendous value for the Bank.

He also discusses about how culture matters so much in finance.

 

The extraordinary ways weather has changed human history

May 31, 2018

Fascinating interview of Andrew Revkin who has written this book on history of weather. I mean how little we know of fundamental things such as weather which pretty much shape everything around us.

I think that most of us feel like we’re pretty much in control most of the time. But one thing we can’t control is the weather. How much has weather determined the course of human history?

On every level, climate change on long time scales has really powerfully shaped human history; it’s in the section in the book on the exodus from Africa. People at Columbia and other universities looked at things like seabed records in the Red Sea or near North Africa and found that there’s sort of a wobbling weather pattern over time. The Sahara Desert, as National Geographic has written about many times, was sometimes grassland and green. There are stone carvings there, people and paintings of people swimming in lakes in the Sahara.

Weather shapes our communities and our responses to the environment in different ways. The Dust Bowl was a long and extraordinary drought, with human landscape changes exacerbating the conditions to create the dust. And that had a pretty transformational impact that reverberated for a long time.

Talk about the role of weather in the outcome of conflict. Can you explain that?

Weather has influenced wars throughout history. For the book, we chose a World War II example: Russia and winter. Winter was always Russia’s biggest ally. Anyone who tried to invade Russia near winter, if they didn’t get the job done quickly, they were going to be in deep trouble.

When the Spanish Armada tried to attack England, it was stray changes in the winds that favored England and contributed to the defeat of the Spaniards. There are more examples throughout history.

There are some really strange ways that weather has messed with us through the ages; most bizarre to me in the book was the hail story. Apparently, hail can commit mass murder.

There is this one mysterious case high in the Himalayas where someone looked into a lake and found a horrific scene of slaughtered people preserved there. The presumption was that it was warfare. But then a crew of scientists from National Geographic took a closer look at the forensic analysis. All the wounds were from the top down, from some large kind of object, and the presumption was that it was hail. There was nothing around to indicate it was a weapon. You think about hurricanes and flooding, but hail causes some of the biggest financial losses every year, very consistently, in the United States.

Should try get a copy of the book.

Monetary policy – end of history?

May 30, 2018

Sabine Lautenschläger of the ECB revisits Fukuyama’s famous phrase End of History and uses it for monetary policy:

n 1992, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama announced the end of history. The cold war had just ended, and in Fukuyama’s view, this marked “the endpoint of mankind’s ideological evolution”. Liberal democracy had prevailed; the final form of government had been reached. There was no need for history to continue.

Similar claims were made about monetary policy. The great moderation, for instance, was traced back to better monetary policy. With this in mind, some argued that monetary policy had reached a perfect and final stage. There was no need to evolve further; history had come to an end.

Or had it? Well, it seems that the unexpected always happens. And when it does, it tends to push the end of history a bit further away. This is true for politics, and it is true for monetary policy.

The unexpected happened in 2008: the global financial crisis struck and undid the great moderation. History took a sudden turn and this threw long-held beliefs overboard. Academics as well as policymakers had to adapt their thinking and their doing – monetary policy was no exception. Central banks around the world came up with new tools to keep the financial system and the economy afloat. They became key players; some observers even referred to them as the only game in town.

Now, ten years later, there is one thing that weighs on many people’s minds: When will unconventional monetary policy end? When will it return to normal? It seems that many look no further than the exit from our unconventional measures. But what will happen once we have reached the exit? Will we return to the end of history?

Well, I don’t think so. First, there are still many questions that need to be answered. And second, the unexpected will happen again at some point. History does not end. But before we discuss what will happen tomorrow, let’s take a look at today.

Nice bit.

Vítor Constâncio, Vice-President of the ECB: 34 years as a central banker!

May 24, 2018

Nice interview of Vítor Constâncio, the VP of ECB. He spent 34 years of his professional life as a central banker. He was twice the Governor of Central Bank of Portugal from 1985-86 and 2000-10.

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What is money exactly? Cod vs Code forms of money..

May 21, 2018

Jon Nicolaisen, Dep Governor of Norges Bank looks at features of money in this speech.

In Slide 15, there is this neat chart of differentiating paper money with digital money. Norway’s banknotes have pictures of Cods on them for trust whereas digital currency has code for trust. So we trust both cods and codes.

Slide 2 also has picture of the first banknote in Europe issued in Sweden.

Overall a nice and useful speech on money..

Should Federal Reserve issue e-USD?

May 18, 2018

Central bankers of most advanced economies have spoken on the subject of digital currency.  Federal Reserve has been reticent so far.

Thus, it is interesting to read this speech by Governor Lael Brainard of Federal Reserve. Should Fed issue an e-USD?

…there is no compelling demonstrated need for a Fed-issued digital currency. Most consumers and businesses in the U.S. already make retail payments electronically using debit and credit cards, payment applications, and the automated clearinghouse network. Moreover, people are finding easy ways to make digital payments directly to other people through a variety of mobile apps. New private-sector real-time payments solutions are beginning to gain acceptance in the United States. And the Faster Payments Task Force has laid out a roadmap embraced by a variety of stakeholders for a fast, ubiquitous, and secure payments system to be in place in the United States in the next few years. In short, a multiplicity of mechanisms are likely to be available for American consumers to make payments electronically in real time. As such, it is not obvious what additional value a Fed-issued digital currency would provide over and above these options.

Hmm..

Andy Haldane: Will big data keep its promise?

May 3, 2018

One must try and read most speeches by Andy Haldane of Bank of England. He has a flair for summing up a topic in a lucid and detailed manner.

In this speech, he looks at big data. How big data is like oil industry:

The first thing to say is that Big Data and data analytic techniques are not new. Nonetheless, over recent years they have become one of the most rapidly rising growth areas in academic and commercial circles. Over that period, data has become the new oil; data analytic techniques have become the oil extraction and refining plants of their time; and data companies have become the new oil giants.2

Yet economics and finance has, to date, been rather reticent about fully embracing this oil-rush. For economics and finance, the use of data analytic techniques has been the path less followed, at least relative to other disciplines. One simple diagnostic on that comes from looking at the very different interpretations put on the expression “data mining” by those inside and outside of economics and finance.

For economists, few sins are more heinous than data-mining. It is the last resort of a scoundrel to engage in “regression-hunting” – reporting only those regression results which best fit the hypothesis the researcher first set out to test. It is what puts the “con” into econometrics.3

For most economists, such data-mining has unfortunate similarities with oil-drilling – a dirty, extractive business which comes with big health warnings. For data scientists, the situation could not be more different. For them, the mining of data is a means of extracting valuable new resources and putting them to use. It enables new insights to be gained, new products to be created, new connections to be made, new technologies to be promoted. It provides the raw material for a new wave of productivity and innovation, an embryonic Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Then he explains the differences between deductive (theory to data) and inductive (data to theory) reasoning. Big data makes inductive reasoning possible in a ‘big way’ but it should be balanced with applying logic and thoughts to the trends.

Then there are three Vs in big data: volume, velocity and variety.

He even quotes/refers to some interesting research related to big data..

Best investment books for beginners…

May 1, 2018

Yesterday Vicky asked me which economics books should one read? I said this is a difficult question given the vastness of the subject. It is much better to pick a topic within economics and then figure the best books.

For instance, John Kay recommends 5 books on investing for beginners. He also shares key insights on investing and finance.

Why just beginners, most of the 5 books will go in for expert reading as well.

 

35 years of Diamond-Dybvig model of bank runs

April 26, 2018

Nice interview of Prof Dybvig where he narrates how the model was built and its implications..

Cryptocurrencies in the global economy: Norges Bank edition

April 20, 2018

One is summarising the speeches of several central bankers on digital and crypto currencies.

Here is Deputy Governor Jon Nicolaisen of Norway’s central bank. He does not think much of these digital currencies but says one should not miss on the potential of new technology.

 

Waqf – an economic perspective

April 12, 2018

A nice speech from  Mr Marzunisham Omar, Assistant Governor of the Central Bank of Malaysia. It is always interesting when central bankers give a much broader perspective than just interest rates and inflation.

In this piece Mr Omar discusses Waqf which is basically endowment in Islam and how to make most of this religious norm.

First some history of Waqf:

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The best books on the history of mathematics

March 30, 2018

Robin Wilson (Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University) recommends 5 books to understand history of mathematics.

He says if math was taught more historically, students would appreciate it more.

Why should we be interested in the history of mathematics?

Mathematics, like painting, music, literature, has a long history. Indeed, it’s longer than most, since the first writing is believed to be numerical. It’s also multicultural, with its historical origins in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The history of mathematics also involves particular individuals who are part of our world culture. Perhaps more school children would be interested in maths if it were taught more from a historical point of view. For example, how often do they learn that quadratic equations have been solved for 4000 years, having their origins in clay tablets discovered in what is now Iraq, an area that features in our daily newspapers?

Couldn’t agree more!


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