Archive for the ‘Speech / Interviews’ Category

Maruti Suzuki is less prone to yen volatility now…

June 17, 2016

Interesting interview by Maruti Suzuki Chairman RC Bhargava.

He says how the company has reduced the impact of yen volatility on its balance sheet. No policy intervention needed:

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Status of Indian economic and business history..

June 7, 2016

An interesting and depressing interview of Prof Tirthankar Roy. Much is already known though but one would hope he says things are getting better.

He reviews a lot of trends in Indian economic and business history:

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How are financial innovations regulated in India?

May 31, 2016

Very nice speech by R Gandhi of Indian Central Bank. It is a pity that such speeches are barely covered in media. All we care for is newsbytes and news that hardly matters other than create hype.

The speech is given in the context of recent developments in P2P lending space where India has decided to regulate the space. After looking at various ideas around financial regulation (which makes for a great read as well), the speaker talks about Indian approach:

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Italy – historical heritage and future prospects

May 31, 2016

Nice speech by  Mr Salvatore Rossi, Senior Deputy Governor of the Bank of Italy.

He gives a brief outline of evolution of Italy as a nation and its contribution to world economy:

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Culture in financial services..a much neglected and a very important domain

May 17, 2016

One has been trying to read as much financial history as possible across countries. It is all fascinating to read through accounts of ways things were financed back then and the hardships faced. One also comes across how financial innovations of today were used historically and there is hardly anything modern or innovative about them.

Another thing which emerged is strong cultural and trust values in banking firms. Firms that instilled these values early on and remained committed survived much longer than their peers. Leave all balance sheet analysis and financials aside. It is this cultural aspect which matters as greatly for both survival and growth of a banking firm. This applies to most firms but much more to banks for whom gaining trust and maintaining it is really central to everything.

The crisis of 2008 is leading all these lost values to come back.  Regulators stinged by the crisis despite all the fancy financing techniques and Basel norms, now realise culture of a firm is what matters at the end of the day.

In this speech, Andrew Bailey of Bank of England sums up the issues:

There is a reasonable debate about what is culture, but that is not a debate about whether it is important.  In my view, culture is a product of a wide range of contributory forces:  the stance and effectiveness of management and governance, including that well used phrase “the tone from the top”; the structure of remuneration and the incentives it creates; the quality and effectiveness of risk management; and as important as tone from the top, the willingness of people throughout the organisation to enthusiastically adopt and adhere to that tone.  Out of this comes an overall culture.  It is not something that has a tangible form.  As supervisors, we cannot go into a firm and say “show us your culture”.  But we can, and do, tackle firms on all the elements that contribute to defining culture, and from that we build a picture of the culture and its determinants.
 
Culture has a major influence on the outcomes that matter to us as regulators.  My assessment of recent history is that there has not been a case of a major prudential or conduct failing in a firm which did not have among its root causes a failure of culture as manifested in governance, remuneration, risk management or tone from the top.  Culture has thus laid the ground for bad outcomes, for instance where management are so convinced of their rightness that they hurtle for the cliff without questioning the direction of travel. We talk often about credit risk, market risk, liquidity risk, conduct risk in it’s several forms. You can add to that, hubris risk, the risk of blinding over-confidence.  If I may say so, it is a risk that can be magnified by broader social attitudes.  Ten years ago there was considerable reverence towards, and little questioning of, the ability of banks and bankers to make money or of whether boards demonstrated a sufficient diversity of view and outlook to sustain challenge.  How things have changed.  Healthy scepticism channelled into intelligent and forceful questioning of the self-confident can be a good thing.  In turn, culture matters to us as financial regulators because it can, left alone, tend to shape and encourage bad outcomes, but it doesn’t have to do that.
Happy revisiting history.
So what can regulators do and not do?
What can we do therefore as regulators to shape and influence better outcomes on a more consistent basis?  Let me start with one thing that we cannot do.  As regulators, we are not able, and should not try, to determine the culture of firms.  We cannot write a regulatory rule that settles culture.  Rather, it is the product of many things, which regulators can influence, but much more directly which firms themselves can shape.  We seek to ensure that firms have robust governance, which includes appropriate challenge from all levels of the organisation; and promote the acceptance that not all news can be good and the willingness to act on and respond promptly to bad news.  We insist that remuneration is structured to ensure that individuals have skin in the game, namely that a meaningful amount of past remuneration is retained or deferred and for senior people is at risk should problems then emerge.  We require that risk management and internal audit in firms are effective and act to root out poor incentives and weak controls.  All of this is important and central to what we do as regulators, but let me reinforce the point that culture begins and lives, and I am afraid dies, at home, with firms.
 
It is not for us as regulators to prescribe culture, that would not work.  Firms and their management have to want good culture.  But we can have a lot of influence here. 
Then he sums up the steps taken by BoE to try and influence culture:
In the last few months we have taken a very important step here by introducing for banks the Senior Managers and Certification Regime, as proposed by the Parliamentary  Commission on Banking Standards.  It replaces the Approved Persons Regime, and in time it will be implemented across the regulated financial services sector.
 
There is, let me be clear, no magic bullet to change culture, but the new regime is a big step forward in my view.  This is because at its heart it embeds the notion of personal responsibility for the affairs of the firm at the level of senior management.  The Approved Persons Regime did not do this, and in practice it focused on a notion of culpability not responsibility.  These two notions are different.  I have said many times, but will keep doing so, that senior managers cannot delegate responsibility.  To be fair, many have said to me over the last few years that this change does not make a difference for them as they always thought they were responsible.  Good.  But, set this against other conversations I have had which have doubted the enforceability of this notion of responsibility.  This has concerned, but not distracted me.  So, to be clear, responsibility is the central plank of the new Senior Managers Regime.  We do want senior managers to feel this responsibility in all that they do and that includes a responsibility for forming and implementing a positive culture throughout the organisation.  In this respect culture is no different to strategy; where are we today, where do we aspire to be tomorrow, how will we get there and what risks must we mitigate along the way.
 
Responsibility, as embedded in the Senior Managers Regime, is therefore an important hook to assist in firms’ shaping their own culture, and also to provide regulators with the powers to conduct supervisory oversight and to act when needed.  But, let me reiterate that it is not the job of regulators to enforce culture and to change culture.  If we have to step in, and occasionally we do, the overriding conclusion is that management has failed.

Alas, none of these measures are likely to work much. These things are pretty much inbuilt and historical. Moreover, there is no guarantee that once culture is set, it will continue. Change of senior management who do not believe in culture and history undo all the goods of the past and then sow the seeds for eventual destruction of the firm..

Can crises be curbed? Hayek vs Keynes…

April 19, 2016

Today is a day of this versus this on ME blog. After Schumpeter vs Kirzner, here is another take on the more famous Hayek vs Keynes.

This one is by Norges Bank  Deputy Governor Jon Nicolaisen. As he is a central banker, what more to expect than whether one should intervene ot let markets work during a crisis:

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Behind the mysteries of the Federal Reserve

March 18, 2016

The kind of attention Federal Reserve gets worldwide one would imagine that this is one institution which must be having broad approval from US people and polity. Ironically, it is actually just the opposite.

Unlike most parts of the world where discussion on central banks is just about their rate moves, in US one finds equal number of discussions on origins and relevance of Fed. This has gained steam after the crisis and lots of stuff is being written looking at historical basis of Fed.

One such recent book is by Prof Peter Conti-Brown, a professor of legal studies and business ethics at Wharton. Here is his interview where he makes several food for thought points:

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What explains the different economic paths taken by Argentina and Chile?

March 10, 2016

The Impact of Globalization on Argentina and Chile is the title of a book which looks at the paths taken by two countries. Argentina which was one of the top economies in the beginning of 20th century is not even a pale shadow of its great past. Chile also after many upheavals has managed to get its act together.

The editor of the book, Prof Geoffrey Jones explains the findings in this interview:

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History and future of financial centres..

February 18, 2016

Financial centres is perhaps the least studied but one of the most fascinating areas of finance. We ignore the locational aspects of finance/banking which combine so much of scholarship – history, economics, politics and finance..

There are two recent speeches – first by Clara Furse of Bank of England and another by Mr Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Chairman of MAS Singapore. Both obviously look at their own financial centres.

Clara Furse takes you to history of fin centres:

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Don’t question Indian macro data, get the analysis right..

January 22, 2016

India’s chief statistician TCA Anant says this in this interview. I would think both data and analysis are connected. Poor data surely leads to poor or distorted analysis. Though, this does not mean good data always leads to good analysis.

He says we need to look beyond monthly volatility and look at compsition of data:

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Where’s the inflation in developed world?

January 13, 2016

This question is actually posed to BIS’s Mr Hyun Song Shin. The interview reminds you of this post on death of economics. I mean such is the chaos in thinking and explanation. No one has a clue really.

He says based on the traditional economic story we should have had some inflation. But we don’t:

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History of US debt limits..

December 30, 2015

An insightful interview of Prof Thomas Sargent. He recently discussed his new paper on US debt limits at one of the IMF lectures.

In the interview, he further distils the lessons:

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Do economists understand the economy?

December 3, 2015

Shiva’s wrath – Divali, creative destruction and central banking

November 13, 2015

First of all, Happy Diwali to all the viewers of this blog. Hope you all had a great time and continuing to have one on a really extended set of holidays.

It has been a while since this blog last posted. What better way to start than to point a speech linking Diwali with central banking. I had pointed earlier how Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago celebrates Diwali keeping all these mythological stories as its theme. Earlier ones were on Ramayana and this year it is on Lord Shiva:

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Linkages between Swiss monetary policy and Swiss financial centre

November 4, 2015

Linkages are obvious. But we usually do not see a speech where one talks about financial centres.

Thomas J. Jordan chief of Swiss National Bank gives a speech on the topic. Most don’t know but Swiss have had three financial centres – Geneva, Basel and Zurich. Eventually, Geneva emerged as the preferred one.

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An econ professor who was mistook as a spy!

October 26, 2015

Prof. Frederic Payor of Swathmore College has had some experience in life. He was mistook for a spy in East Berlin due to his dissertation on Russian economy! The topic of dissertation was on the foreign trade system of the Soviet bloc.

All this interesting titbit was hardly known till Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks did not play the events in their recent movie – Bridge of Spies.

In this interview, Prof Payor narrates the experience and how closely the movie captures reality:

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Europe for the right reasons..

October 8, 2015

 

Nice interview of later Prof. Stanley Hoffmann, a longtime , professor of international relations at Harvard University.

Michal Matlak: Europe is not in good shape.

Stanley Hoffmann: Any American newspaper will tell you this. Those poor Europeans, they don’t know what they are doing! I am originally from France, and I recently went back to see some friends. It looked perfectly normal to me. They are not exactly doing brilliantly, but the notion that the whole thing will collapse, that there will be no EU, is plainly absurd. There are ups and downs—this is a period of down, but it is not the end of the story.

This is big irony really. India is one of the highest  (ok “the highest”) growing country in the world. But it feels like a recession here.

Good stuff on Europe, history, politics and so on..

 

Do Central Bankers really believe what they say?

October 5, 2015

Nice interview of Patrick Barron of Mises Institute. Exposes all the fancy talk done by central bankers across the world:

Our guest this week is Patrick Barron, a professor of economics and a student of global currency markets. Patrick and I dissect the Fed’s big announcement this past week not to raise interest rates, and consider whether Janet Yellen and other central bankers really believe in what they’re doing.

Is it all just to save themselves from the judgment of history, by kicking the can down the road? Have they read, or even considered, Austrian arguments on money and banking? Or are they simply so wedded to Keynesian orthodoxy that they literally don’t know what else to do? And what type of precipitating events might spell the end of US dollar imperialism?

 

China as an emperor with no clothes?

October 1, 2015

Most pessimists of a certain economy/economies have their day someday. So, time is ripe for China’s pessimists and they go abuzz saying “Didn’t I I tell you”? All this while those who built their careers over China’s optimism have been shrugged aside. How quickly the tides turn really.

Jim Chanos the China pessimst is one such fugure. In this interview, he calls the country as an emperor with no clothes. It is still not naked but is getting there:

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Three Truths for Finance..(and three lies of Harvard)

September 23, 2015

Mark Carney of BoE has a speech on the topic.

He starts with three lies related to Harvard Univ:

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