The hardest job in the world

You think Bernanke has a tough job?  Try being a central bank with no currency, and a hostile government that doesn't restrict its attacks to pointedly cutting remarks:

"Sometimes people take a gun to the head of a branch manager," says Jihad al-Wazir, governor of the Palestine Monetary Authority. "Then I get a phone call."

The PMA is a most unusual central bank. It lacks a currency and a country. It can't control interest rates or fight inflation, like other central banks. And it communicates with its Gaza branch office by videoconference because Israel regularly blocks the border to PMA officials. Meanwhile, Hamas, the militant Islamist party that rules Gaza, wants to boot out the central bank's leader.

The PMA is playing a critical role nonetheless, pressing banks in the West Bank and Gaza to modernize. Its efforts have made it easier for well-off Palestinians abroad to invest back home. That's a big reason households' bank deposits rose by 20% in 2007, according to the International Monetary Fund.

The PMA also is encouraging enterprise in the territories, where much of the population now depends on make-work government jobs. It aims to turn itself into a "full-fledged central bank" by 2010, meaning one with the ability to manage a currency in case a Palestinian state is created.

I don't think its possible to build a viable state out of the shreds the settlements have left.  But if such a miracle is possible, it will need a solid banking system, with serious standards of corporate government, to repair the ravages of the current conflict. 


Presented by

Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Business

Just In