March 2017: Gender matters

Women in central banking remain a very small but powerful minority. Alongside well known cases such as Janet Yellen of the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of Russia’s Elvira Nabiullina (featured on our cover), only 6.5% of central banks are headed by women. This corresponds to 12 institutions, down from 15 last year when OMFIF last conducted research into the gender balance of central banks. Our research has been expanded this year to present a more nuanced picture. The OMFIF Global Public Investor Gender Balance Index takes account not only of governors but also of deputy governors and other senior central bank officials. The results (see p.8-10) are more encouraging. The research will be launched on 8 March, celebrated around the world as International Women’s Day. In commemoration, this month’s Bulletin is an all-female author issue featuring contributions from 14 women across central banking, academia, policy and capital
markets, and from jurisdictions spanning California to Australia and Turkey to Thailand.

While most women in senior positions rightly want to be recognised for their skills and qualifications alone, rather than for their gender, it is important to raise awareness about their relative scarcity in central banking. Jenny Corbett presents evidence on the positive effects of female role models on the appeal of economics to women. In two words: gender matters. The world economy would also be a great beneficiary of improving opportunities for women in the workplace, argues Christine Lagarde. Vicky Pryce suggests employment quotas as the way to achieve this. Interest in investing among women is a historical phenomenon, according to a book by Amy Froide on Britain’s late-17th century financial revolution. In her review, Rachel Pine worries that the encouraging trend of that period has now weakened. Minouche Shafik reminds us that, at a time when the public has come to question experts, humility and trustworthiness are vital characteristics. This applies to political leaders, too. Marsha Vande Berg reflects on the lost opportunity to catalyse new thinking about the potential for female candidates following Hillary Clinton’s defeat in the US presidential election. An accord between two of the world’s most powerful women, Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde, over Greece’s debt problem was key to calming markets after a period of uncertainty, notes Danae Kyriakopoulou. With Greece out of the headlines, Europe has turned its attention to the French presidential election, where there are risks voters could turn away from the mainstream, according to Sarah Hewin. The prospect of a victory for Marine Le Pen, and a potential French exit from the euro, has unsettled markets.

The path of Britain out of the European Union could act as a guide, or deterrent, for other countries contemplating an exit. Linda Yueh analyses the trade options for the UK outside the single market. Aslihan Gedik presents the dilemmas for Turkey’s central bank in the light of exchange rate volatility. On emerging markets, Magdalena Polan questions the very concept as several economies in the grouping have effectively ‘emerged’. But many still face challenges. Tarisa Watanagase highlights the need for policy responses to population aging in developing economies. We conclude with the results of the monthly poll of our Advisory Board, which has expanded with the appointment of Georgina Baker from the International Finance Corporation and Katarzyna Zajdel-Kurowksa of the National Bank of Poland. Questioned on the appropriateness of dollar pegs for oil-exporting economies, 62% of respondents answered in favour of maintaining the status quo, given the unnecessary uncertainty which alternative currency regimes would bring. On the outlook for Iran’s nuclear agreement, 62% predict that the deal will survive Trump’s presidency.

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