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Being Jon Hilsenrath

Updated on November 30, 2012

Jon Hilsenrath

The man, the myth, the legend
The man, the myth, the legend

Understanding Jon Hilsenrath

He is the chief economics correspondent for the Wall Street Journal; but Professor Stephen Roach of Yale University and former non-executive Chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia, has called him the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Jon Hilsenrath is therefore someone of great importance in the global financial markets. His importance derives from his uncanny ability to be in the right place at the right time to opine on Federal Reserve policy; with a similar uncanny ability of always opining it right. These trademark Jon Hilsenrathisms have the power to move markets more than any legendary central banker of the Twentieth and Twenty First Century; and they always seem to come just when markets are giving up hope and heading for the downside.

Some more recent examples of Jon Hilsenrathisms have included:

  • The reporting of the arrival of a new Federal Reserve policy tool known as Sterilized Quantitative Easing, on March 7th 2012
  • Reporting that a new wave of monetary stimulus was coming; as a response to weakening US Economic data and the problems in Europe, on June 6th 2012
  • Reporting that the Federal Reserve was impatient with the economic recovery and ready to ease imminently, on July 25th 2012
  • On August 24th 2012, a timed release of a letter, to Darrell Issa suggesting the need for more easing, on the European market closing bell;that created the kind of short squeeze that morphs into a key reversal day and triggers a bull rally.

What Jon Hilsenrath does is therefore clear. He moves markets. He moves markets by reporting market intelligence; derived from an alleged close connection to Chairman Bernanke. This close connection has never been proven; it has simply been accepted, because of market price action. Why he does this, is a question that can be answered by looking at when he reports. His reports seem to come at times of doubt in financial markets; therefore he can be understood as part of the unofficial Fed policy of transparency of communication and market expectations management. Where he does this, is the Wall Street Journal.

So far, who Jon Hilsenrath is has not been answered.

Columbia University

In Thy light shall we see light
In Thy light shall we see light

Throwing some light on the subject

The biography of Jon Hilsenrath lists Columbia as the University where he obtained his Masters and MBA. In addition to being one of the oldest universities in America, it administers the Pulitzer Prize and has more Nobel Laureates than any other seat of learning. Columbia is therefore not only just an Ivy League University; it is a global institutional leader. Columbia produces World leaders in their respective fields.A leader must be in the right place at the right time. Other famous Americans who were similarly in the right place at the right time; and graduated from Columbia, include Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Alexander Hamilton and Barack Hussein Obama. A less known, but nonthless important alumnus is William "Wild Bill" Donovan; founder of the OSS and CIA. Columbia produces leaders of prominence in finance, politics, law and national security. Who Jon Hilsenrath is, must therefore be put into this context. The subject of national security is not misplaced; because he was part of the Wall Street Journal's Pulitzer Prize winning team, for his personal first-hand coverage of the events of 911.

Since he became operative as a journalist, he has guided readers through the Asean Debt Crisis of the 1990s, the dot.com Bubble, the War on Terror; and the Credit Bubble and Bust that followed. Presidents and Federal Reserve Chairman have come and gone, but the commentary of Jon Hilsenrath has been a constant feature in American life over the last quarter century. As Winston Churchill observed, history is kind to those who write it.In real context therefore, Jon Hilsenrath may actually be even more important than the Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

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