Friday, 23 September 2016

Why is the head of a central bank like James Bond?

You don't often hear of a banker being compared to James Bond; a Bond villain, perhaps, but not Bond. But back in June, Raghuram Rajan, formerly the governor of the Reserve Bank of India (he stepped down earlier this month), was dubbed James Bond by the country's media.

The James Bond tag hit the world's headlines when he was depicted as 007 in an image published in India's Economic Times. The illustration, based on a poster used for Skyfall, showed Rajan with gun poised, ready to defend India's currency (the gun is covered with rupees). The caption below the illustration read 'Name's Rajan, Game's Bond'. Rajan has also been called 'Bond of Mint Street', and may have played on this when he once told reporters that 'My name is Rajan and I do what I do.'

Raghuram Rajan as Bond, according to the Economic Times
What had Raghuram Rajan done to gain such an accolade? According to a profile of Rajan in the Economic Times, he enjoyed notable success as governor. He strengthened the rupee, cleaned up India's banks, brought an academic perspective to the job, was firm with interest rates, and gained a huge popular following. It seems that these successes gave rise to the perception that Rajan was dynamic (the Economist Times also called him the 'gung ho governor'), clever, and cool (both with regard to interest rates and criticism within the sector), and it is these qualities that linked him to Bond.

Had he known that banking could be so adventurous and action-packed, perhaps Ian Fleming would have been tempted to give his short banking career (he spent a year at merchant bankers, Cull and Co.) a longer run!

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