Bi Christine Lagarde za uspešno vodenje ECB potrebovala doktorat? Neumnost.

Barry Eichengreen (UC Berkeley) z lahkoto ovrže pomisleke nekaterih, da Christine Lagarde za uspešno vodenje ECB manjka najprej doktorat iz ekonomije in nato še izkušnje v centralni banki. Kar dober predsednik ECB dejansko potrebuje, niso fahidiotska detaljistična tehnična podkovanost, pač pa zdravorazumsko razumevanje učinkovitosti kombinacije ekonomskih politik nasploh in posebej v določenem ekonomskem in zgodovinskem kontekstu ter politične izkušnje na najvišji ravni. In Lagardeova ima obojega v izobilju.

Njen problem je bolj v tem, da na čelu ECB ne more nič več narediti. Centralne banke so za spodbuditev izhoda iz Velike recesije po 2009, za spodbujanje gospodarske rasti in inflacije naredile, kar so lahko – z zagotavljanjem ogromne likvidnosti bankam, z odkupovanjem ogromnih količin vladnih obveznic (kvantitativno sproščanje), z znižanjem posojilnih obrestnih mer na ničlo in depozitnih v negativno polje. Centralne banke nimajo več nobene efektivne municije. Lahko finančnim trgom dajo na voljo zastonj še za nekaj bilijonov ali trilijonov evrov (dolarjev, funtov, jenov), pa to ne bo dvignilo niti za mišjo dlako ne rasti BDP in ne inflacije. Monetarna politika je času likvidnostne pasti, v kateri se nahajamo že desetletje, impotentna. Draghi je to razumel, Lagardeova to razume. Problem je, ker tega ne razumejo politični voditelji in njihovi ideološko obremenjeni ekonomski svetovalci.

But, while having a president with specialized training as a monetary economist would benefit the ECB, is such training essential? In appointing Jerome Powell, who similarly lacks a PhD in economics, US President Donald Trump didn’t think so (though Trump’s recent remarks suggest that he may now regret Powell’s appointment). Draghi’s predecessor at the ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet, also lacked a doctorate in economics. Yet having higher degrees in political science and state administration didn’t prevent him from becoming an effective central banker.

The critical attribute is not the diploma but, rather, the capacity to recognize sound economic arguments and advice. This in turn presupposes the ability to identify qualified professional colleagues. Here, Lagarde’s appointment, in her IMF years, of a pair of top-flight chief economists, Maurice Obstfeld and Gita Gopinath, and her long cooperation with a third, Olivier Blanchard (appointed by her predecessor, Dominique Strauss-Kahn), is reassuring. So, too, is the fact that the IMF under Lagarde was prepared to change course in light of their advice. The leading example, though there are others, was the Fund’s critical postmortem on the merits of austerity, adopted with impetus from Blanchard’s analytical work.

Then there is what else Lagarde brings to the table. First, she has political skills that will be useful in a period when the coordination of monetary and fiscal policies is at the center of policy debate. Second, she has experience heading a national treasury, the agency responsible for the fiscal policies in question. Third, her international experience will be helpful in an environment where the cross-border spillovers of monetary policy matter more than ever.

Finally, Lagarde brings an avowed concern with gender balance. Politico’s reference to the central banking “fraternity” is revealing. Whether women make better central bankers is debatable, of course. What is clear is that an overwhelmingly male-dominated central bank board will have a legitimacy problem with half the population. In addition, broadening monetary leadership beyond that traditional fraternity arguably is one way to address the groupthink from which many central banks suffer.

Vir: Barry Eichengreen, Project Syndicate

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