Bank of Korea Kim pushing Central Bank boundaries

Radical central banking is being debated as never before as policy makers throw everything they have, and then some, at safeguarding growth.

It’s often thought that Ben Bernanke and Mario Draghi are the ones pushing the boundaries of monetary policy, if not the dismal science itself. But neither the Federal Reserve chairman nor the European Central Bank president is as unconventional as their South Korean counterpart, Kim Choong Soo.

As the Bank of Korea governor navigates dueling crises and a world flooded by zero-interest-rate money, he’s finding time to agitate for social changes that may leave the economy better off. They include scrapping a seniority system, empowering women and arguing for increased immigration.

Kim’s first initiative since taking the job in April 2010 was to internationalize the bank. He was shocked to find that not one joint research project was afoot — not with the International Monetary Fund, World Bank or any nation. Today, his team is participating in 18, gaining new connections and insights from around the globe.

The real shakeup came in the bank’s boardroom. Kim elevated young staffers to senior posts, running afoul of Korea’s strict age-based hierarchy. It was a revolutionary act in a system informed more by the Confucian orthodoxy of the past than future competitiveness. He also promoted a woman to run the financial markets division. Suh Young Kyung is the highest-ranking female in the central bank’s history.


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