Unlimited fun, not funds, on ECB’s iPhone app

But we never pre-commit

Who says central banking is boring? The European Central Bank, now grappling with safeguarding the survival of the euro zone, has made it to iTunes, with its monetary policy app “€conomia”. It challenges iPhone and iPad users with — you guessed it — keeping inflation at just under 2 percent. The new app is the on-the-go version of “The Monetary Policy Game” that has been available on its website for some time.

What is most striking is not the funky music soundtrack you would expect to hear playing quietly in the background while the Governing Council meets to set policy in Frankfurt. What really sticks out is the lack of monetary policy tools at the user’s disposal.

You can cut, raise or hold the benchmark interest rate, read up on the press coverage, and watch the economy thrive, stagnate, or flounder.

But you can’t inject billions of euros into the financial system through refinancing operations of various maturities. You can’t provide emergency lending to financial institutions with no access to capital markets, you can’t tell everyone that the current interest rate is appropriate, you can’t purchase vast amounts of Italian bonds, and as of now, you can’t be the lender of last resort.

Perhaps that’s one for the next version.

The iPod – the iCon of Chinese capitalism

Walking past Apple’s sleek shop along London’s Regent Street on Sunday, my wife asked me what I wanted for Father’s Day.

“An iPad?” I ventured, half-jokingly.

“Are you sure you want one? Don’t you care how they’re made?” came her disapproving reply.

She was, of course, referring to the rash of suicides among Chinese workers at Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer of Apple’s much desired iPads and iPhones.