Central bank governor of the year 1997: Central Banker of the Year: Yam – Hong Kong's sharp-shooter
His combative approach - along with $70 billion reserves - has seen off all the currency speculators so far. But does Joseph Yam sleep easy at night?
He rarely sleeps and he worries too much, but it seems to have paid off. Joseph Yam has successfully steered Hong Kong through what was billed as the most tumultuous year in its history.
Ironically, the transition of sovereignty from Britain to China proved a walk in the park compared with the ensuing currency turmoil that has flared across the rest of Asia. Fortunately the head of the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) was well placed to deal with the speculation. Hong Kong's financial community has long recognized that Yam is something of a hard man. He also has a powerful armoury with $70 billion in reserves - five times the number of notes in circulation - not too mention China's chunky arsenal if need be. Nor is he afraid to spend it. In July he used $1 billion to fend off one afternoon's speculation in the Hong Kong dollar, which is pegged at 7.80