The author has been described by News Ltd as an "iconoclast", "Svengali", a pollie's "economist muse", and "pungently accurate". Fairfax says he is a "Renaissance man" and "one of Australia’s most respected analysts." Stephen Koukoulas concludes that he is "85% right", and "would make a great Opposition leader." Terry McCrann claims the author thinks "‘nuance’ is a trendy village in the south of France", but can be "scintillating" when he thinks "clearly". The ACTU reckons he’s "an enigma wrapped in a Bloomberg terminal, wrapped in some apparently well-honed abs."

Friday, February 11, 2011

RBA Governor backs Professor Warwick McKibbin speaking out

Ms O’DWYER —I have one final question. I am interested in turning to another matter entirely now, Governor—that is, the composition of the Reserve Bank board. Because I know time is limited, I will paraphrase my question here, because I know that the board is made up of a number of different independent directors of different backgrounds and different skills. In the past, it has been the practice of independent members of the board such as Professor Adrian Pagan to contribute to the economic policy debate in their own right, given the specific nature of their economic skill set. Do you have a problem with board members contributing to the economic policy debate in their own independent right?

Mr Stevens —I have never had a problem with people who are economists for a living going about the things that are involved in being an economist for a living, which will include commenting on matters of public policy. It is agreed amongst the Reserve Bank board members that, on monetary policy, the spokesman for the board is the governor. That has been the case for many years.

I think that system is understood and all the members are content with that. But our board members, even the ones that are not economists—most of them are people with a commercial background, not an academic economics background—talk about all manner of things in their walks of life. How could it be otherwise? It should not be otherwise. Of course, when they say something, even if it is rather unrelated to anything to do with the Reserve Bank, the press always write it up as ‘Reserve Bank board member Mr So-and-so or Ms So-and-so says this’. That is what the press do, but they are not talking on behalf of the bank about those issues; they are giving their own view. I have not had a problem with that. The arrangement we have is that when the bank has to say something about monetary policy I or the deputy governor will say it, and I think that has been pretty much respected by the members.

Ms O’DWYER —I am happy with that.