Inside Money

Business writer David Chaplin blogs on personal finance

Inside Money: OCR - The rock opera

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Photo / Thinkstock
Photo / Thinkstock

"Rock star economy," the Governor thought, "what is that guy on?"

He snorted at his own answer: "Probably the same stuff the rock stars are on... those bank economists get paid way too much for mouthing off about what I should be doing."

The Governor considered the rock stars he was familiar with, all of whom were either dead - imploding at an impossibly young age under the weight of their drug-addled, insufferable egos - or even worse, still alive and parading their rehabbed insufferable egos around the world stage, speaking out on 'global issues' they knew nothing about while looking like inappropriately-dressed grannies.

Neither of those two options appealed to him as an aspirational model for a small, commodities-driven, open economy.

The Governor's preferred musical analogy for the economy was classical, which, when he was feeling optimistic, might mean some lovely light choral work where all was harmonic sweetness. In truth, though, he often felt economic affairs more usually akin to dreary operatic marathons - something like Wagner's famous 15-hour 'Ring Cycle', which climaxes, according to Wikipedia, in the "cataclysm at the end of Götterdämmerung".

He didn't really know what Götterdämmerung meant - although it definitely sounded like bad news - but that was one of the good things about opera: it was almost always in a foreign language so you could ignore the words.

The problem with rock - and all modern musical genres for that matter - was that the lyrics were almost always in English, and sometimes even audible.

The Governor became especially annoyed if he inadvertently heard pop songs address financial matters: they always got it wrong - it was either love or hate.

Where, he thought, were the well-reasoned power ballads concerning monetary policy? What about a hip-hop take on the yield curve? Why can't a rock star craft a catchy hit dramatising the thoughts of a central banker as he weighs up a decision about the official cash rate?

The TV news interrupted his fantasy. On screen a young girl - a New Zealander apparently - was singing at some kind of awards ceremony.

From what the Governor could make out, the song was a kind of rejection of materialistic values. He recalled the lyrics of a song made famous by a now-dead rock star briefly popular in his youth: "Oh Lord won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz..."

But he already had one of those, and his friends all had Porsches or Bentleys or BMWs.

Even so, the questioning of materialistic values threw him off task for a minute. Then the Governor pulled himself together, headed out into the media room and began reading the prepared statement.

He knew all the words by heart anyway, and so did everybody else, it was just like Karaoke.

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