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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Geoffrey Howe dies, aged 88

Howe was Margaret Thatcher's longest serving Cabinet minister – and the man credited with precipitating her downfall.

The former Conservative chancellor Lord Howe, a key figure in the Thatcher government, has died of a suspected heart attack, his family has said. He was 88.

Geoffrey Howe was the longest-serving member of Margaret Thatcher's Cabinet, playing a key role in both her government and her downfall. Born in Port Talbot in 1926, he began his career as a lawyer, and was first elected to parliament in 1964, but lost his seat just 18 months later.

Returning as MP for Reigate in the Conservative election victory of 1970, he served in the government of Edward Heath, first as Solicitor General for England & Wales, then as a Minister of State for Trade. When Margaret Thatcher became opposition leader in 1975, she named Howe as her shadow chancellor.

He retained this brief when the party returned to government in 1979. In the controversial budget of 1981, he outlined a radical monetarist programme, abandoning then-mainstream economic thinking by attempting to rapidly tackle the deficit at a time of recession and unemployment. Following the 1983 election, he was appointed as foreign secretary, in which post he negotiated the return of Hong Kong to China.

In 1989, Thatcher demoted Howe to the position of leader of the house and deputy prime minister. And on 1 November 1990, following disagreements over Britain's relationship with Europe, he resigned from the Cabinet altogether. 

Twelve days later, in a powerful speech explaining his resignation, he attacked the prime minister's attitude to Brussels, and called on his former colleagues to "consider their own response to the tragic conflict of loyalties with which I have myself wrestled for perhaps too long".

Labour Chancellor Denis Healey once described an attack from Howe as "like being savaged by a dead sheep" - but his resignation speech is widely credited for triggering the process that led to Thatcher's downfall. Nine days later, her premiership was over.

Howe retired from the Commons in 1992, and was made a life peer as Baron Howe of Aberavon. He later said that his resignation speech "was not intended as a challenge, it was intended as a way of summarising the importance of Europe". 

Nonetheless, he added: "I am sure that, without [Thatcher's] resignation, we would not have won the 1992 election... If there had been a Labour government from 1992 onwards, New Labour would never have been born."

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.