Talkative Dodge promises to button up

Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:10pm EST
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - David Dodge, Canada's talkative central bank chief with a colourful turn of phrase, promised he'd keep his mouth shut when he retires at the end of this month -- a contrast to the frequent post-retirement comments from former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.

Speaking at his final news conference on Thursday, Bank of Canada Governor Dodge insisted he wasn't giving advice to anybody, and he refused several times to be drawn on whether the U.S. Federal Reserve should cut interest rates over and above Tuesday's surprise reduction of a steep 75 basis points.

"I think the one really important thing for an outgoing governor is to keep his or her mouth shut," Dodge said.

Dodge has headed the Bank of Canada since 2001, steering monetary policy through the turmoil that followed the September 11 attacks. He won a reputation for blunt comments, such as calling on investors to "do their own bloody homework" and saying there was nothing "fundamentally screwy" about 2006 oil prices.

Speaking about on Chinese monetary policy on Thursday, he stressed that allowing the yuan to float freely would be a way to curb inflation.

"Far be it from us to advise the Chinese on a mix of policy, but our own experience would be that you're better to take more of it on the currency side and less with a lot of very funny jiggery-pokery with regulations of bank credit."

Dodge grinned widely when asked about the challenges facing his successor, Mark Carney, who becomes governor on February 1.

"In biblical terms, the first year of a governor's term is set up by the world out there to be a difficult one. Mark and (Senior Deputy Governor Jenkins) Paul are going to have an 'interesting' time to use a Chinese word."

Greenspan, long the world's most powerful central banker, had a reputation for oblique comments rather than clear ones. He has had a series of public appearances since he retired in early 2006, with comments that still move financial markets.

He speaks in Vancouver, British Columbia, later on Thursday.