Four More Bernankes
NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- As Ben Bernanke prepares his exit as Federal Reserve chairman, it's clear what his legacy will be.
"Helicopter Ben," as his derisive nickname implies, found a way to effectively deal with economic challenges that defied political leaders, using only monetary policy.
It's an approach that's becoming increasingly popular as central bankers become key to maintaining the economies of all America's biggest trading partners. Instead of calling for four more years, you might call for "Four More Bernankes."
Great Britain, iPath GBP/USD Exchange Rate ETN (GBB), is the most obvious example. Faced with a Conservative government that, like our Republicans, sees austerity as the cure for the economy, the Bank of England plans to assure borrowers that they will have low, low interest rates until their economy improves.The Bernanke plan in this case is led by Mark Carney, a Canadian given credit for shielding that country from the worst of the Great Recession. Before entering government service in 2004, he was with Goldman Sachs. While insisting he's no Bernanke, Carney is nevertheless doing a very Bernanke-like thing, coupling interest rates as low as 0.5% with an unemployment target, in this case 7%, as the London Telegraph's live blog attests. The hope, as with the Federal Reserve's QE program, is that low interest rates will spur business activity and hiring. Meanwhile, in India (INRUSD), Bernanke is named Raghuram Rajan. He's a former IMF economist who warned of the approaching U.S. financial crisis as early as 2003, and the new head of the Reserve Bank of India. India faces a credit crunch, engineered by Rajan's predecessors through a rise in interest rates. He portrays himself as "pro-growth" and needs to protect the value of the rupee and, as with Bernanke, do things the government itself is unwilling or unable to do, according to the Economic Times of India. This idea of central banker as superman comes directly from the American experience where price stability is no longer the only goal, but growth and employment also factor into the equation. Japan, iPath JPY/USD Exchange Rate ETN (JYN), under the Bank of Japan's Haruhito Kuroda, is unique among the group in having a growth-happy political leadership, under Shinzo Abe, who recently won full control of his nation's parliament. But Kuroda, too, is expected to use monetary policy to offset any mistakes by political leaders, stimulating the economy, and increasing inflation, to reduce the yen's value in the face of a rise in sales tax, as the Japan Times reports.
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