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Markets Magazine

Indonesia’s Fearless Finance Minister Is Ready for Her Next Fight

Rekindling her youthful activism, Sri Mulyani Indrawati wants to recharge Southeast Asia’s largest economy


The mood at the meeting should have been tense. Seventy bank analysts gathered in January at the Indonesian Ministry of Finance, a sprawling stylistic mix of art deco and 19th century East Indies colonial, and made their way to a tower dubbed “the devil’s building” for the hexagram formed by its blue-tinted windows.

Hostile questions for the finance minister, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, seemed inevitable; some of the attendees might even stage a protest. JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts had, following the U.S. presidential election, put a sell order on Indonesia’s equities. The finance ministry’s response was swift, decisive, and resolute: the immediate termination of all business partnerships with the bank. Now two weeks had passed, and JPMorgan had reversed its bearish call, but the shiver was still reverberating through the research arms of global banks as the ministry considered preventing them from issuing negative reports. (JPMorgan declined to comment.)