Stocks & Commodities V. 23:12 (56-61): Interview: Barbara Rockefeller by Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan

Stocks & Commodities V. 23:12 (56-61): Interview: Barbara Rockefeller by Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan
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Stocks & Commodities V. 23:12 (56-61): Interview: Barbara Rockefeller by Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan

Barbara Rockefeller of Rockefeller Treasury Services is an international economist, author, newsletter publisher, and trader specializing in foreign exchange, with more than 20 years of institutional experience. Her “Daily Currency Briefing” newsletter is a synopsis of events and forecasts in spot foreign exchange, published for central banks, fund managers, and multinational corporations, while the “Daily Futures Report” is a technical analysis–based report on currency futures. Prior to starting the newsletter business in 1990, she was the senior risk manager in the international division at Citibank. STOCKS & COMMODITIES Editor Jayanthi Gopalakrishnan interviewed Rockefeller via telephone on October 6, 2005.

Q: How did you get started in technical analysis?

A: I was an economics major in college and had to write a senior thesis. I had just spent a year at the University of Keele in Staffordshire, England, so I decided to write about why the pound must be devalued. This was back in the days of fixed exchange rates, and in those days, we thought foreign exchange rates were set by economics. As it happens, before I finished the thesis, they did devalue the pound. My thesis advisor thought I was perspicacious… and of course, I didn’t have a clue! Who has a clue when they are 21?

Q: Most people don’t. So did that get the wheels rolling?

A: Not really. Even after exchange rates were floated in the 1970s, analysts still thought that economics ruled FX rates. When I was at Brown Brothers Harriman, they had a process of forecasting exchange rates consisting of everybody in the room writing down their forecasts for one, three, six, and 12 months. Then the boss would take all the numbers, knock off the high and low estimates, average the rest, and there was your forecast. It was an incredibly ineffective way to forecast! Moreover, a lot of value judgments went into the forecasts, like my colleague who always said, “America is the greatest country in the world. The dollar should be strong!” There was a bias toward forecasting the dollar higher, even though it was falling, month after month. I spoke up against it and it made me a “troublemaker.”

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