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Read my brooch, says Russian central bank chief Nabiullina

The first signal was in March, when she wore a brooch in the form of a Nevalyashka doll, a traditional Russian toy that pops back up when pushed over, as policy makers sought to shore up the economy against the Covid-19 pandemic.

By: Bloomberg | December 29, 2020 1:23:31 pm
Elvira Nabiullina during a rate announcement news conference in Moscow, on Feb. 7, 2020. (Image source: Bloomberg)

Bank of Russia Governor Elvira Nabiullina confirmed what the market has been thinking this year: The brooches she’s worn after key rate meetings are clues to understand policy decisions.

The first signal was in March, when she wore a brooch in the form of a Nevalyashka doll, a traditional Russian toy that pops back up when pushed over, as policy makers sought to shore up the economy against the Covid-19 pandemic. In May, she displayed a small white house on her jacket as the government urged people to stay at home. And in June, she choose a pigeon — the word in Russian also means dove — after cutting the key rate.

Not every pin is as clear, with some setting social media atwitter.

“I like to see the different interpretations because people have rich imaginations,” Nabiullina said in an interview with RTVi TV channel on Monday. “I put something into each symbol but I’m not going to explain.”

This month Nabiullina wore a pin of a bright red bird, known in Russian as a snegir, after policy makers held the key rate stable for the third time in a row as a second wave of Covid-19 delayed signs of recovery. While some social-media commentators saw the brooch as a sign of a cold winter and long freeze to come, others suggested it could be a bullish signal, playing on the English name for the bird, bullfinch.

“The bullfinch is a beautiful winter bird,” Nabiullina said. “It’s a bird that can withstand various frosts. It’s hardy.”

Her previous choice in October, as cases of the coronavirus surged, was a wave.

“I didn’t expect the interpretation that the central bank fears a Democratic victory in the US,” Nabiullina said. “I think about the meaning in each brooch, but the interpretations are much wider.”

Nabiullina said she hasn’t decided whether to continue wearing brooches next year.

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