Monday, April 17, 2023

What worries bankers


What worries the world's bankers

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Think of it as speed dating for macro nerds.

Hundreds of the world’s top economic officials descended last week on Washington to discuss an agenda as broad as climate change and banking shocks during a blitz of seminars, meetings and panel discussions—and a lot of exchanging of business cards.

For the uninitiated, the confab was the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The weeklong event brings together finance ministers and central bankers for a temperature check on the global economy.

The discussions were dominated by warnings of cost-of-living pressures, rising inequality and the risk of another banking scare. There was also room for some self-congratulation.

During one panel debate IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva applauded the Bundesbank Chief Joachim Nagel and other central bankers for the role they’ve played in tackling inflation. Not to be outdone, Nagel returned the compliment by congratulating the fund for its crisis management over the past 18 months.

Georgieva at the spring meetings. Photographer: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg

It took former India central bank governor Raghuram Rajan, who was on the same panel, to break up the group hug. “Let me rain on the love fest that is going on here,” Rajan said when he interjected with a list of where policymakers had gotten it so wrong in recent years. He cited the role of massive government spending in stoking the inflation crisis in the first place and the side effects of quantitative easing.

In the spirit of TL;DR, here’s a review of the main points discussed last week:

It’s Too Soon to Declare Victory Against Inflation

Time and again IMF officials used the meetings to ram home the idea that central banks and governments must remain laser focused on restoring price stability even amid worries a recession is coming. That means borrowing costs for households and businesses will need to go even higher.

“Inflation is much stickier than anticipated even a few months ago,” Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, the fund’s chief economist told reporters. “If at this point central banks were to pivot away from price stability, then there is a chance that the fight against inflation would not succeed.”

This Time Is Different

You might recall that was the title of a 2009 book that catalogued financial crises in 66 countries. One question that kept coming up throughout the week of meetings was whether deeper cracks in the global banking system would appear over the coming months as the Federal Reserve and other central banks continued to ratchet up rates and then hold them there for an extended while. Although policymakers were quick to hose down fears that the recent collapse of a couple of regional lenders in the US and one global one are harbingers of a 2008 financial crisis redux, they were careful to add that there may yet be some hidden surprises.

“There are certainly other vulnerabilities out there,” said Tobias Adrian, the IMF’s director of monetary and capital markets.

Perils of a New Cold War 

There was lots of discussions of the potential effects of a US-China decoupling on supply chains, investment and geopolitical alliances.

The jist of the concerns is that rich nations will onshore (translation: bring home) critical manufacturing at a cost to poorer nations who worry their opportunities to attract investment and create jobs will suffer. Developing countries are worried that decades of globalization that helped to lift their economies will now come to a halt as protectionism and self-interested industrial policy dominates.

Moroccan Finance Minister Nadia Fettah Alaoui summed up the so-called Global South position. “Countries like Morocco will suffer from fragmentation,” she said during a panel discussion. “We have to push to avoid this.”

Breaking the Logjam on Debt

Developing nations used the gabfest to plead for a resolution to a quarrel among big creditors over how to restructure billions of dollars of debt held by poor nations. Discussions were aimed at ending a deadlock between a list of lenders that includes the IMF, China, banks and bond buyers—although there were mixed signals on the amount of progress made.

At least one of the central actors, China, is sending encouraging signals about breaking the deadlock, Nirmala Sitharaman, finance minister of India, which is this year’s chair of the G-20, told Bloomberg Television.

“We see a positive sign in their engagement, and therefore they’re also committing themselves to resolve this,” she said. 

The Too Mighty Dollar

It wouldn’t be an IMF gathering without griping over the impact of the Fed’s rate hikes on emerging economies. Policymakers in those nations complain that rising US interest rates are pushing the dollar higher and by extension pushing their own currencies lower, stoking financial volatility.

But it was comments made on the other side of the world by Brazil President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who was on a state visit to China, that probably summed up the view of many emerging economies hurting from dollar strength and dominance in global trade.

“Who decided that the dollar was the [trade] currency after the end of gold parity?” he said in Shanghai. Cue plenty of head nodding among visiting officials in Washington.

For their fall meeting in October, the IMF and World Bank will take their roadshow to Morocco. Expect much of the above talking points to continue to dominate. Enda Curran, Bloomberg News


Illustration: Nick Little for Bloomberg Businessweek

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It's boring but


It's boring but there's a reason every pro golfer does this

April 14, 2023

Welcome to GOLF IQ, a game improvement podcast by Golf Digest's Play Editor, Luke Kerr-Dineen. Every Tuesday and Thursday, Kerr-Dineen uncovers nerdy nuggets of information you can use to improve your game.

Each episode is only 10 minutes, and you can subscribe to the Golf IQ podcast right here!


There are very few things that every golfer on tour does religiously. A pre-shot routine is one of them.

It's not the most interesting thing. I fully admit that it can be a boring topic of conversation. And yet, I have a pre-shot routine that I do before every shot I hit. I know it's important, and whenever I forget, players are quick to bring up the importance of it, unprompted.

So, that's the topic we explored in back-to-back episodes of this week's Golf IQ podcast.

You can listen to each of those episodes below, or scroll down to learn why you should care more about having a pre-shot routine.

Physical pre-shot routine

Lots of things change during a four-hour round of golf, and you'll never hit the same shot twice. That can be an uncomfortable truth that makes consistency from round-to-round—or even shot-to-shot—really tricky.

Pre-shot routines exist to solve that problem. To give you something you can do the same way, every single time, to help you feel more comfortable. A pre-shot routine doesn't need to be complicated, it just needs to be reliable. A physical cue you can use before you walk into your shot, and get focused.

They come in all different shapes and forms, but I've always liked Adam Scott's. He stands behind the ball, sets the clubface towardsthe target, grips the club with his lead hand, then walks into the ball. It's a clever move which ensures he grips the club the same way every time. It's a good habit to have.

But the physical side is only one half of a good pre-shot routine...

Mental pre-shot routine

If a physical pre-shot routine is the literal thing you do before hitting your shot, a mental pre-shot routine are the things you think about during your pre-shot routine.

It's basically impossible to not think about anything, so rather than worrying about hitting your ball into the water, the goal of a mental pre-shot routine is something good to think about. Being proactive, rather than reactive.

My go-to thought, seconds before I start my swing, is "stay centered." No time for any last-minute bad thoughts to sneak in. Just something I’m focusing on trying to do.

You can listen to our pre-shot routine podcasts, and our other pods, below.