January 2015: Search for guidance

A year after Janet Yellen took over at the Federal Reserve is an appropriate moment to survey the progress of women in central banking. This is not always the safest of jobs. Compared with our survey in November 2013, the roll call contains some absentees, with Gill Marcus from South Africa retiring, Mercedes Marcó del Pont from Argentina (like many predecessors as well as her immediate successor) forced out, and Yussur Abrar from Somalia leaving after just three weeks.

But, where previously there had been none, two females now sit on the 25-strong European Central Bank council, Chrystalla Georghadji of Cyprus (the first lady governor from a euro bloc country – albeit one with exchange controls) and Sabine Lautenschläger, on the ECB executive board. Overall, we demonstrate in the OMFIF Index of Female Central Bankers that gender equality in this field has shown a clear increase over the past 12 months. So this is work in progress. The same applies to the somewhat directionless state of the world economy. Bronwyn Curtis’s New Year predictions make sobering reading. The one uniformly bright spot applies to the US. Darrell Delamaide delves into the Federal Reserve’s code system and divines that interest rates are due to go up in mid-year. Trevor Greetham maintains the US as his favourite equity market. Dalin Hamilton takes a cautious line on Shinzo Abe’s re-election in Japan.

In Europe, we are back in déjà-vu territory. Meghnad Desai says the snap Greek poll on 25 January adds up to the referendum he advocated in July 2011 and was briefly tabled (and then shelved) by George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister. Harald Benink, Wim Boonstra and David Marsh investigate easing options for the European Central Bank, where Mario Draghi remains committed to aggressive balance sheet expansion, opposed by Jens Weidmann, the Bundesbank  resident. John Plender examines the wider issues of possible debt restructuring. Ian Solliec says higher German inflation would be in Germany’s best interests. Denis MacShane surveys a bevy of European electoral contests where populist anti-EU parties may gain the upper hand. Michael Lafferty gazes into the crystal ball for European banking and spots clouds on the horizon.

In our emerging markets section, David Smith outlines perspectives for Latin America. Jingdong Hua from International Finance Corporation explains IFC’s MCPP instrument for giving official institutions access to syndicated loans for emerging market private sector companies. Kevin Anderson and George Hoguet from State Street Global Advisors submit the Hong Kong-Shanghai Connect programme to fresh scrutiny, with a particular focus on the international monetary ramifications. We review books by William Keegan, John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge – a worthy crop of sages to accompany OMFIF into the New Year.

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