Hatoyama, Obama and the blue flower drama

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Readers of the August issue of Euromoneymay recall discussion of the fate of the Cabinet email magazine, a weekly bulletin from the Japanese prime minister’s office. Would the bulletin survive the LDP’s election defeat and the installation of new prime minister Yukio Hatoyama? And would the publication’s chatty and often eccentric style survive in the transfer to a DPJ administration? We’re happy to report the answer is a resounding yes on both counts. Hatoyama’s office began broadcasting the magazine, newly subtitled ‘Yu-Ai’ but otherwise eerily similar to its former incarnation, almost immediately. The subtitle is a reference to Hatoyama’s much-derided policy of fraternity, the phrase being both a Japanese name for the concept and an evocation of the English words ‘You’ and ‘I’.

The November 20 edition concerning president Barack Obama’s visit to Japan offered a fine example of the new Cabinet’s continuance of its predecessor’s fondness for images and anecdotes that don’t perhaps always make the point they intend to.

"At the beginning of the dinner," Hatoyama writes, "I presented President Obama with a single blue rose. It was believed impossible to create a blue rose, since roses lack the gene to produce the colour blue. However, a Japanese company spent 14 years in research and finally succeeded in developing the world’s first blue rose. I explained to President Obama how this blue rose, which holds the meaning ‘to accomplish the impossible,’ was created and said: ‘Let us work together to accomplish the impossible.’"

Having campaigned against his opponent’s 50-year policy of spending huge amounts of public money on unneeded public works projects, Hatoyama might have paused to consider whether his anecdote about an expensive and idiosyncratic 14-year project to create a blue flower might best demonstrate his new ethos. "We can accomplish the impossible," it says, leaving the listener to supply the concluding "whether that’s a good idea or not."

Meanwhile, it occurs to Euromoney, those bankers now working deep within the bowels of investment banks to create the next generation of torturously complex we-made-it-because-we-could structured products have found a fine emblem. Look out for Bluerose CDOs, blowing up around 2023.