• Conceptual complexity;
  • Central bank governor;
  • Central bank independence;
  • Asian Financial Crisis;
  • Exchange rate volatility

This paper examines the impact of the conceptual complexity of central bankers on exchange rate volatility during the Asian Financial Crisis of the late 1990s. Theoretically, this paper develops a framework to study the cognitive style of individual central bankers in conjunction with the institutional features of the central banks they head. The paper also controls for a variety of other common explanations for exchange rate volatility during this time period, including the number of veto players representing the political system and underlying structural features of the Asian economies. Empirically, the cross-sectional time-series analysis finds that more conceptually complex central bankers were able to reduce exchange rate volatility during the crisis years, especially when they inhabited highly independent central banks. This paper concludes that linking the study of key individuals to macroeconomic outcomes in the global political economy is a promising area of research.