Toshihiko Fukui

Japan's Greenspan

Quick, name the world's fastest-growing major developed economy. It's not in Europe, and it's not the U.S. Surprise, it's Japan, which turned in an impressive 6.4% annualized gain in the final quarter of last year. Much of the credit belongs to Fukui, who just completed his first year as head of the Bank of Japan. "Out of 100 points, I give his performance a 99," says Jesper Koll, chief Japan analyst at Merrill Lynch in Tokyo. Some have gone so far as to call Fukui, 68, the best central banker in the world.

Credit Fukui's success to unconventional thinking. His predecessor,...

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