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The Fox and the ECB

PARIS – A French business magazine recently ranked IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde the most internationally influential French person alive – well ahead of President François Hollande. While politics may have influenced that particular decision, there is no doubt that Lagarde is at least the most prominent French woman alive.

Lagarde’s competition in this category is not particularly stiff. Valérie Trierweiler, Hollande’s partner, came to prominence with an ill-judged political tweet about her predecessor, but has since retreated behind the Élysée Palace’s firewalls. And Brigitte Bardot is not quite the force of nature she once was.

But this may be about to change. The European Parliament has just confirmed the appointment of the Bank of France’s Danièle Nouy as the first head of the European Central Bank’s new supervisory board.

The announcement comes less than a month before the ECB takes over direct supervision of some 130 banks, representing more than 80% of eurozone bank assets, leaving only smaller national banks under the jurisdiction of local supervisory agencies. Nouy (with whom I have worked) is a knowledgeable and capable supervisor, equipped with a formidable combination of determination and charm. She will need all of these attributes and more to make Europe’s new banking system function efficiently.