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Leading from the front

It was fun while it lasted but National Bank of Poland's unique approach to monetary control has been knocked on the head. Following this year's introduction of a new banking law, the central bank, headed by tough-minded Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, will no longer be able to take retail deposits.

That also means an end to glitzy marketing campaigns extolling the benefits of good returns without risk that the central bank had offered. Deposit rates 3% above the average pulled in $1 billion in deposits before the scheme was halted.

With or without further retail adventures, Poland's commercial bankers are taking the central bank more seriously than before. Its worry was that credit growth was outstripping deposit growth paving the way for liquidity problems. All the standard measures had been tried such as raising interest rates and reserve requirements. The only thing left was to prod the banks into submission by stealing their business. This soon had the banks sacrificing spreads and building up deposits.

Had Asian central banks pursued similarly tough policies, the current crisis might never have started. Ambitious headhunters could earn a large fee by relocating Gronkiewicz-Waltz to Thailand, Indonesia or South Korea.

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