Why are the World's Best Central Bankers All Asian?

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in at 10/20/2013 11:09:00 AM
Ben Bernanke is the world's leading practitioner of what I call "Jive-A** Central Banking." It involves creating vast negative externalities for others. Easy money policies Stateside have not only led others to justifiably accuse the Fed of beggar-thy-neighbor policies via competitive devaluation (which he denies), but also cause further turmoil in the Hamlet-style drama of whether to end them or not. Suffice to say that these unconventional measures have done little to put the United States on a firm economic footing, let alone a sustainable path for growth.

Recently, Global Finance released this year's list of the world's best central bankers, a sort of Pro Bowl for central banking. In a sign that the "Asian Century" has come to central banking at least, all of the featured top vote-getters were from Asia. (Perennial selection Mark Carney famously moved to the UK from Canada so the jury is still out on him.) Again, I believe this points out that since the Asian financial crisis, these states have learned their lessons about prudent monetary policy in the face of unusual situations: avoidance of extremely negative real interest rates, balance sheet abuse, market-misleading pronouncements and so on. Prudent central banking is not exactly a mystery; why so many violate sound practices is quite frankly galling.

Obviously none of these holds insofar as Ben Bernanke is concerned. Faced with its own crisis, the United States has embarked on Wild West experiments in central banking that, quite frankly, have not produced much of anything.

Anyway, to the press blurb:
Global Finance magazine has named the heads of the central banks of Malaysia, the Philippines and Taiwan as the World’s Best Central Bankers over the past year, in recognition of their achievement of an “A” rating on Global Finance’s Central Banker Report Cards. In addition, the central bankers of Chile and the European Union earned “A-” ratings.

The Central Banker Report Cards, published annually by Global Finance since 1994, grades central bank governors of more than 50 key countries (and the European Union) on an “A” to “F” scale for success in areas such as inflation control, economic growth goals, currency stability and interest rate management. (“A” represents an excellent performance down through “F” for outright failure.) Subjective criteria also apply.
It is almost surreal to me, but the Philippines' own Amando Tetangco is the "veteran" here, having won the award five times in 2006, 2007, 2011, 2012 and now 2013. He is becoming the Michael Schumacher of central banking for those keeping score. This representing a country that was among the hardest-hit during the Asian financial crisis continues to amaze. As I said before, some people learned from their crisis. Others didn't.

BTW: Mario Draghi getting an A- demonstrates that being a Western crisis-hit entity is no excuse. Good riddance, Bernanke. You will not be missed by your own people or the rest of the world.