How to be a Finance Minister (Florence Nightingale Might Have Liked)

From Facebook, April 27 2011:

Subroto Roy reflects on what the role is of a Finance Minister/Treasury/Exchequer head: it is to be, at least, the Chief Financial Officer of the country.

And what does a good CFO do?

Preserve, if not enhance or at least not worsen, the “financial condition” of the entity in his charge, namely, the asset/liability, income/expenditure, and cashflow positions, plus the goodwill etc.

Of course the financial condition of a country’s Exchequer depends on the financial condition of each and every public entity that adds up to the whole (and less directly on the financial condition of private entities).

Good Finance Ministers should definitely stay away from TV (waffling on endlessly on TV trying to explain one’s economic model is a sure sign of an incompetent FM), probably stay away from most conferences, their favourite word has to be “No” or perhaps “No, I’m sorry”, their resignations need to be typed, signed & ready in their desk-drawer, only needing to be dated at the top.  The same a fortiori for Central Bank heads (except for the ready-resignation part).

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) revolutionized nursing by implementing her slogan “Whatever else hospitals do, they should not spread  disease”.

Economists and Finance Ministers should seek, at least, at a minimum, to do no harm.

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