The Global Economy’s Firefighters - OZY | A Modern Media Company
SourceTori Hanai/Corbis


Because these financial geeks are holding your hard-earned money in their hands.

By OZY Editors

President Obama’s upbeat State of the Union address Tuesday disguised a painful reality in the rest of the world: The economy is tanking. From Venezuela to China to Europe, monetary firefighters find themselves rushing to put out the flames of recessions and collapsing currencies. And leading the charge is a new breed of central bankers who are increasingly foreign to the country whose purse strings they’re playing with — purse strings that happen to be yours, too. So pay attention: These puppet masters have your livelihood in their grips.

A Putin Ally Tries to Save the Ruble

Russia’s currency is in free fall, and the person tasked with strapping a parachute on the ruble’s back is a rare sight in Moscow: a petite, 51-year-old daughter of a truck driver. But Elvira Nabiullina has the trust of the only man who matters in Russia: Vladimir Putin. In the face of Western sanctions, tumbling oil prices and a political course that is unsettling investors, Nabiullina will need all the help she can get. Read more he re.

Shinzo Abe’s Secret Weapon

Perhaps one of the most important people in today’s global economy is the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe, who’s become known for his brand of policy, “Abenomics.” Forget the name, it’s septuagenarian ex-Yale professor Koichi Hamada who shaped the policy. For Hamada, the opportunity came at what he thought would be the end of his career — but turned out to be a whole new beginning. Read more here.

Wall Street’s Worthy Adversary

And don’t forget Wall Street. You know about Elizabeth Warren and her true love of regulating big banks, but you might not yet know the next Warren: a diminutive, 50-year-old woman whose size belies her fierceness when it comes to keeping the big banks on task. Meet Kara Stein, who self-identifies as financially “crisis-scarred” and helped author the language that went into the Dodd-Frank Act. Read more here.

The Euro Fighter andMr. No Breathe Life Into Europe

Last but not least comes a duo of Europeans trying to make their continent functional. There’s Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister slash Angela Merkel’s “Euro Fighter,” who promises reliability and stability with trademark German efficiency. There’s also Jens Weidmann at Europe’s Central Bank, who’s lovingly (or not) known as Herr Nein (Mr. No) and has been at the forefront of the battle against low inflation rates on the continent.

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