Out of the Woods
Seen and heard in the corridors of the Annual Meetings
•/ Pols’ Pizza Pals: The idea that central bankers are automatons who love little more than wrangling spread-sheets flies out the window when you walk into Il Canale, a gloriously iconoclastic Georgetown pizza joint. Yes, the wall of fame boasts glossy snaps of actress Julianne Moore tucking into a spicy pepperoni, but pride of place is reserved for a cheery looking Mark Carney, head of the Bank of England, and a grinning Ignazio Visco, governor of the Bank of Italy. Say cheesy deep dish!
•/ Grounded: The conference rooms and auditoriums, not to mention the bars and saloons, are full as ever with bankers looking to hitch their wagon to active debt management offices, but one big-ticket investor is notable only for its absence. France’s BNP Paribas Asset Management is nowhere to be seen in Washington this year. The reason: all their executives have been grounded until January next year, thanks to a bank-wide travel ban. Austerity ahoy!
•/ Hedge it is: News from the Ronald Reagan Building, the only building in the nation’s capital whose façade looks like it escaped from the set of the film Roman Holiday, and whose inside resembles a branch of the Church of Scientology. When OOTW dropped by to pick up his press badge, a whey-faced staffer at the IIF was busy rolling out a long snaky line of green plastic hedges, to make the granite backdrop blend in a bit. We’d venture a joke about the dangers of unregulated hedging flows, but perhaps we’ll leave that up to you, dear reader.
•/ Creaky crooners: Is Russia changing its ways? A nation famous for flooding every public event with leggy blondes dealt a blow against age and beauty discrimination. The ‘Cultural Event’ Russia laid on in the IMF Atrium featured five musicians in traditional attire — cotton thread-count 1,00-plus — earnestly strumming balalaikas. Average age: 65. Hair: crispy white. Complexion: vodka. Glory to the Motherland!
•/ Heeeeeere’s Signore: Like the first cuckoo of spring, there’s something comforting about OOTW’s inaugural autumnal sighting of Italy’s premier business writer, known by his admiring Roman colleagues as ‘Signore Primero Uno’. This year he was spotted outside a World Bank panel on faith and development agencies, sporting a jaunty yellow tie and a toothy smile that would put the former Juventus manager Max Allegri’s wolfish grin to shame.