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Book review: The funny business of central banks and money supply

'The Price of Time' comes as incoming BOJ Gov. Kazuo Ueda in celebrity spotlight

In "The Price of Time: The Real Story of Interest," author Edward Chancellor brings the potentially dry subject of interest rates to life with a wealth of anecdotes and walk-on characters both famous and obscure. (Nikkei montage/Photos by Grove Atlantic and Edward Chancellor)

It was big news when Japan announced that professor Kazuo Ueda would become the next governor of the Bank of Japan. Three decades ago, a personnel change at the top of Japan's central bank would have merited a minor slot on national TV news -- and barely a mention in international press. Now it is a major media event, the Asian financial equivalent of the investiture of a new pope.

The way in which dark horse Ueda triumphed over the supposed favorite, Deputy Gov. Masayoshi Amamiya, added to the drama. The question transfixing observers was whether Ueda's BOJ would raise the rock-bottom level of Japanese interest rates, thereby lifting the spirits and profits of banks -- but at the same time, risking a return to deflation. Or whether he would stick to the basic stance of his predecessor, Haruhiko Kuroda, and move slowly and delicately, if at all?

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