Japan's next central banker promises "whatever it takes" to fight deflation

Kuroda pulls a Draghi.

Japan is where all the action in monetary policy is taking place, and the news this weekend is no exception. Haruhiko Kuroda, the man who is likely to become the new governor of the Bank of Japan following his nomination by prime minister Shinzo Abe, has apparently been taking lessons from Mario Draghi.

Bloomberg's Michael McDonough tells the story:









The crucial phrase there is "whatever it takes". That's the phrase which has gone down in history as the turning point in the euro crisis. Last July, Mario Draghi promised to do "whatever it takes" to preserve the euro — and from that moment, Italian bond yields fell almost consistently until mid-February when traders realised how shambolic the election was gearing up to be. This chart from Business Insider shows just how strong the effect was:


Kuroda will be hoping he can have half the effect of Draghi. But since the effectiveness of promising to do whatever it takes is dependent on everyone believing that you actually will, Japan has an advantage in this game. The lengths the government has gone to to tackle deflation already far exceed anything any other country has attempted, and it would appear they are only getting started.

Haruhiko Kuroda. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Why relations between Theresa May and Philip Hammond became tense so quickly

The political imperative of controlling immigration is clashing with the economic imperative of maintaining growth. 

There is no relationship in government more important than that between the prime minister and the chancellor. When Theresa May entered No.10, she chose Philip Hammond, a dependable technocrat and long-standing ally who she had known since Oxford University. 

But relations between the pair have proved far tenser than anticipated. On Wednesday, Hammond suggested that students could be excluded from the net migration target. "We are having conversations within government about the most appropriate way to record and address net migration," he told the Treasury select committee. The Chancellor, in common with many others, has long regarded the inclusion of students as an obstacle to growth. 

The following day Hammond was publicly rebuked by No.10. "Our position on who is included in the figures has not changed, and we are categorically not reviewing whether or not students are included," a spokesman said (as I reported in advance, May believes that the public would see this move as "a fix"). 

This is not the only clash in May's first 100 days. Hammond was aggrieved by the Prime Minister's criticisms of loose monetary policy (which forced No.10 to state that it "respects the independence of the Bank of England") and is resisting tougher controls on foreign takeovers. The Chancellor has also struck a more sceptical tone on the UK's economic prospects. "It is clear to me that the British people did not vote on June 23 to become poorer," he declared in his conference speech, a signal that national prosperity must come before control of immigration. 

May and Hammond's relationship was never going to match the remarkable bond between David Cameron and George Osborne. But should relations worsen it risks becoming closer to that beween Gordon Brown and Alistair Darling. Like Hammond, Darling entered the Treasury as a calm technocrat and an ally of the PM. But the extraordinary circumstances of the financial crisis transformed him into a far more assertive figure.

In times of turmoil, there is an inevitable clash between political and economic priorities. As prime minister, Brown resisted talk of cuts for fear of the electoral consequences. But as chancellor, Darling was more concerned with the bottom line (backing a rise in VAT). By analogy, May is focused on the political imperative of controlling immigration, while Hammond is focused on the economic imperative of maintaining growth. If their relationship is to endure far tougher times they will soon need to find a middle way. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.