An International Politician Needed to Resolve EU's Economy
As the new president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde will replace Mario Draghi, who has held the role since 2011 and whose term ends on Oct. 31. Men and economists have predominated among the 19 euro-area central banks that make up the E.C.B. Lagarde is neither, yet many people felt she would be the ideal E.C.B. president.
She has an impressive background. As a corporate lawyer, she was the first woman to rise to the top job at Baker McKenzie, a Chicago-based law firm. Then, as a politician, Lagarde was France's first woman finance minister (or any of the G7 industrialized democracies, for that matter). She was also the first woman to lead the International Monetary Fund, and is now the first non-economist to head a major central bank. What sets her apart as a successful politician is her ability for consensus-building among central bankers at a time of unprecedented monetary policies. She has great political instincts and a deep understanding of global macroeconomics. Besides her strong connections with the international community, she also is a gifted communicator.
Even so, Lagarde confronts stiff challenges when she officially takes the role on Nov. 1. First and above all, she needs to reboot EU economic growth. Its gross domestic product is an anemic 1.2 percent this year with further signs of weakness, and inflation is stubbornly low (just under 2 percent). Lagarde labeled the eurozone as having a "delicate moment."
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