Wednesday, March 12, 2008

In Praise of Ozawa Ichirō and the DPJ

At the moment when the world is primed to heap opprobrium or just scalding disgust upon Ozawa Ichirō's head for his irresponsible brinkmanship, I would take a moment to praise him and his party for sticking to a vow to sink the nomination of Mutō Toshirō as Governor of the Bank of Japan.

Despite a blast of invective and advice from Serious Persons everywhere, predicting dire consequences for the stability of Japan's economy should the governor's seat be open but a single day, Ozawa and the DPJ showed they possess spine and tactical smarts. They were not bullrushed into accepting the Liberal Democratic Party's unilateral choice for the BOJ governor. They have established the principle that parliamentary cooperation is of a piece--that the LDP cannot choose to slap the DPJ around using the override provision for the budget, then expect the DPJ to deal on the BOJ appointment.

When the DPJ LDP-led coalition panicked and passed the budget and the gasoline levy renewal on February 29 with nary a Democrat in the room, the DPJ returned the insult by throwing the LDP's best boy into the fire.

Tit-for-Tat: the optimum strategy for multi-round games play that seeks to encourage cooperation.

And cooperation is precisely what the LDP still has not mastered.

What did the LDP leadership and Mutō believe--that the Deputy Governor just rises up, up, up like a helium-filled balloon into the Governor's chair--as if the promotion were one of the inescapable consequences of physics? What presumptuous, arrogant rot! Dealing means dealing--it means a sales job, it means offering special discounts, it means proving to the customers that the product is not just something nice but something each and every one of us needs.

Which the LDP most pointedly did not do.

Instead, in utter reprehensible laziness, it relied on some purportedly innate sense possessed by every citizen to comprehend, without explanation, that Mutō was indeed the sober, steady and independent-minded person his advocates claimed he was...that from the fact that he had been a financial specialist for a long, long time he was obviously a great candidate for BOJ Governor.

Yes sir, an iron keister--the ultimate proof of personal excellence.

And as for the looming vacancy--excuse me, but what about the job in question is so bloody difficult? How vital is it that a human being be sitting in the chairman's chair, when all he or she will be called on to do is hold off on raising interest rates until economic conditions improve or stabilize? As one acerbic observer has noted, ASIMO can do that.

[That the twin U.S. deficits and the sub-prime loan crisis seem to be prima facie evidence that really smart, pro-active central bankers are a positive menace to a balanced global financial system is a whole other avenue of analysis I will not attempt to tackle at this time....but is a concept worth bearing in mind anyway.]

In fairness, the inability for the politicians to get their act together and nominate someone for the post of BOJ governor puts a black mark on everyone. Just do not not be hornswaggled into believing it was Ozawa and the DPJ that set up this outwardly idiotic-looking game of chicken.

Today's rejection was a proper response to the petty thuggery of the smug, anachronistic and self-deluded leadership of the LDP.


Christopher said...

An oversight while you were soaring to your usual fabulous prosodic heights:

When the DPJ panicked and passed the budget and the gasoline levy renewal on February 29


When the LDP ....

MTC said...

christopher -

Right you are...and thank you.

Ken said...

Yes! You are right. I've been mentally preparing a post on why the DPJ's rejection of Mr Muto is good for Japan and should be welcomed as a positive sign.

Sitting back and writing a "Why the Upper House Should be Abolished" piece is what I call picking the low fruit on the tree.