September 19, 2007


The first time I heard "FRB" (pronounced using those English initials) in a Japanese news broadcast, I wasn't sure what they were talking about. It's the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank. It's usually called "the Fed" in the English language press.

The recent Fed action on interest rates led all the news programs in Japan, an indication of how important the world's biggest economy is to the world's second-biggest economy. On the equivalent of NHK's Nightly Business Report, they parsed the Fed statement sentence by sentence in English with side-by-side Japanese translations.

I'd be curious to see what sense they managed to make of previous FRB chairman Alan Greenspan's "orotund stylings marked by barely penetrable syntax" (as Peggy Noonan puts it), which he now admits were purposely obtuse so as not to prematurely commit the Fed to future actions it might take.

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