10-Year Retrospective: Lesson 2 | Central Banks into Milch Cows

A leading economist has predicted that central banks will not remain independent much longer. His forecast was made  at  a Bank of England conference called to celebrate – yes – 20 years of independence. Guests included Mrs Theresa May, the Prime Minster. It was opened by the Governor, Mark Carney, who drew a different, but equally startling, lesson from the crisis.

Willem Buiter, chief economist of Citi, put up two slides where he declared that:

New Era of Mutual Learning for China and Singapore

This report originally appeared in the Straits Times.

China and Singapore share longstanding and broad-based bilateral relations. Singapore's founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew visited China 33 times over 37 years, witnessing China's extraordinary progress.

Today, China is firmly entrenched in the era of the "Four Great New Inventions", namely the high-speed railway, e-commerce, mobile payment and the sharing economy. When Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited China again recently, he must have had some different and impressive experiences.

Going Digital

Three reports this week show how incumbent financial institutions grapple with going digital. Taking the certainties of studies at face value:

1. Bank branches will continue to add value to customers while incorporating more technology
2. Insurers will accelerate investments in digital technologies
3. Central banks will face a decision on whether to issue cryptocurrencies

Here are the week's links:

Digital Bank Transformation: The Evolution of Branch Banking

A New GOP Nightmare: Trump and Democrats Cut a Deal on Taxes

Here they go again.  Despite the Republicans’ control of the presidency and both houses of Congress, their internal divisions keep on frustrating their plans to accomplish anything of consequence. So, the most polarizing GOP president since Abraham Lincoln has come up with a startling work-around:  Cut deals with the Democrats on selected major matters, including funding the government, raising the debt limit and, perhaps soon, legalizing the Dreamers.

In the Eye of the Storm: When Outcomes Matter, Telemedicine Delivers

During the last week in August, Noah’s Ark found a new home in Houston. Unfortunately, it didn’t deliver medical supplies. Between August 25th and 29th, Hurricane Harvey dropped an almost biblical 52 inches of rain on beleaguered Houston, flooding vast swaths of the metropolitan area. GPS data indicates the weight of that 33 trillion gallons of water depressed the surface of the affected region by 2 centimeters.[1]

Legacy Challenges

As a follow up to last week's newsletter, Breached, the Equifax breach likely will have regulatory effects on FinTech that go beyond the credit-scoring business itself. In an ironic but not unsurprising development, legacy institutions questioned new technologies in relationship to legacy problems.

Testimony on Venezuela to the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere

I am sharing my recent testimony on the role of Russia and China in Venezuela, to the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere. The testimony is available at the website of the Subcommittee for the Western Hemisphere at http://docs.house.gov/meetings/FA/FA07/20170913/106398/HHRG-115-FA07-Wst....

Guatemala - The Military in a Supporting Role in the Fight Against Transnational Organized Crime

I am sharing a newly published study on the work of the Guatemalan military, in support of the national police and other authorities in that country, in combatting narcotrafficking, gangs, and other transnational organized crime threats.