These days there are talks about KBC, a game show on Indian TV based on famous "Who Wants to be a Millionaire". I thought we should think on bigger line and create a game "Who Wants to be a Gideon Gono". Don't ask me who is Gono, I can't tolerate ignorance of one of my favourite great characters that ever happened in human history. Here is a brief introduction first, anyways.
When it comes to managing economy the best of the best tend to do worst of their worst as the more one tries to control economy and natural market forces, the more it gets complex and out of control. However, despite being fully aware of this knowledge, there are people and institutions that do try their 'best' and end up in a mess. One such great in contemporary period is Gideon Gono - current Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). He may not be in headlines for some time but he deserves at least a real Nobel Prize in Economics and National Money Management (in fact, they should add National Money Management as a new and separate category in Nobel) although he did manage to get Ig Nobel. I sincerely think he should at least (or we should, the followers and fans of Gideon) register a protest to Nobel Prize Committee and even accuse them of partiality for awarding the prize to Paul Krugman who is only a theorist and ignoring the real man - the man who practised more than what Krugman preached!
Gideon Gono's accomplishments are not small in any way. Some of his achievements include following:
- increasing money supply by 20 MILLION TIMES! That's something! He managed to increase money supply in Zimbabwe from $45 billion to more than $900 QUADRILLION. That's no typo! And for those who never heard about quadrillion, one quadrillion equals 1000 trillion! so, 100 more quadrillions and it is QUINTILLION Dollars of money supply!
- printing currency notes of $100 trillion!
Apart from Economics, he should be considered for a Nobel in Mathematics as well, for his contribution to the subject by making every Zimbabwe citizen learn to calculate astronomical figures on finger-tips. And kindly don't forget an important trait he possesses - he is God fearing and extremely religious person. Following piece from wikipedia describes my point - "Critics have noted that most of Gono's monetary policy statements in the past have had biblical references. Notably, he usually ends in policy statements to the Parliament of Zimbabwe thus: "In the Lord's hands, I commit this Monetary Policy Framework for our economic turnaround." I apologize dear readers but I can't help. I am a die-hard fan of this great person.
Now, let us begin the game. All central bank heads of the world are potential participants but in terms of significance there remain only five - Ben Bernake of US, Jean-Claude Trichet of European Union, Mervyn King - man of the "Old Lady" of UK, Masaaki Shirakava of Nichigin of Japan and team Pranab Mukherji - Subbarao of India. Actually 'team India' is confused and playing this game as if it were "How to Become Prosperous with Inflationary policies" as they pretend to be 'worried' about inflation! The game is on and here is a running merit list for the time being:
He is also known as "Helicopter Ben" for the disclosure of his intention to throw money from helicopter to fight deflation. However, despite his enormous efforts he is so far unable to push up any inflation. He is actually worried about the Japanese Disease and has even tried monetizing, euphemism for printing dollars, not to mention zero-interest-rate policy. But, pundits like Mark Faber are sure he is the most likely candidate to win this game and one day make even Gideon Gono blush.
He is head of an entity that does not have much reliability as EU is more a political outfit than financial one. It was proved when last month Trichet took a U-turn in less than a week after pressure from strong EU members. He was against buying govt debt of countries like Greece by ECB and then when pressured reversed his stance. So, he is in this game but like a toothless tiger he can't do much on his own.
He is one of the likely candidates to win this game. He is trying to push up inflation the 'best possible way' and does not seem to be worried too much. His advantage is the currency he deals in - Pound Sterling. His efforts to devalue pound are on and there is added advantage of a devalued pound - better numbers in their exports. At least that's what he and his political masters plan there.
He is doing the most efforts and his predecessors have been doing those efforts for about 20 years! If past 20 years record of failure in bringing up inflation is any guide then he is most likely to loose this game. However, if he may have some surprises up his sleeves, then he can be the dark horse.
Although India is not significant enough to be considered in this game as participant, the fact that India is a bigggg country population wise, gives team India a wild card entry to the game.
Pranab babu, the politician and Subbarao, the bureaucrat, are working hard but are confused. They are worried about inflation in India but at the same time their policies of higher taxes and lower interest rates / low CRR are leading to the other direction. Pranab babu even opened the pandora box of fuel-price deregulation and subsidy cuts at a time when food price inflation was already shooting up. Subbarao, though shouting a lot against inflation, is actually doing nothing, perhaps fearing a 'slowdown' in economy if he tightens too much. Or, it may also be possible he is under pressure from industry and ruling politicians. Whatever, one thing is clear - Team India is so far the leader in this game as inflation in India is running in two digits already and if they continue their 'efforts' they are going to win this game by a good margin.
The Chinese refused to participate for unknown reasons. They hinted they would better manage (read manipulate) the 'numbers' rather than participate in a silly game.
The game is still on and it will be interesting to see who turns out to be the winner. Long live dear Gono.