Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

The Monetary Cosmopolitans

In recent years, countries have increasingly turned to foreigners and people with considerable foreign experience to assume top positions at their central banks. In doing so, they are combating the "groupthink" that has long impeded policymakers' ability to develop innovative responses to new challenges.

NEWTON, MASSACHUSETTS – Can you imagine a French citizen being elected President of the United States? Or a Japanese prime minister of the United Kingdom? Or a Mexican chancellor of Germany? Probably not. Indeed, even if there were no legal obstacles, it would be difficult to imagine voters in a democracy installing a foreigner in their government’s top job.

But, during the last few years, countries have increasingly turned to foreigners and people with considerable foreign experience to assume what is generally viewed as a country’s second most important position: head of the central bank. What has driven this shift, and should it be welcomed or discouraged?

For example, Stanley Fischer, nominated in January by US President Barack Obama to succeed Janet Yellen as Vice Chair of the Federal Reserve, is an American immigrant from southern Africa who served as Governor of the Bank of Israel from 2005 until last year. And, in July 2013, Mark Carney, a Canadian who had served as central-bank governor in his home country, became the first foreigner to lead the Bank of England in its nearly 320-year history.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

https://prosyn.org/qtJJ9QH;
  1. elerian122_Peter MacdiarmidGetty Images for Somerset House_bigdatascreentechman Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images for Somerset House

    Adapting to a Fast-Forward World

    Mohamed A. El-Erian

    The world is going through a period of accelerating change, as four secular developments illustrate. Firms and governments must make timely adjustments, not only to their business models and operational approaches, but also to both their tactical and strategic mindsets.

    2
  2. roubini137_Mikhail SvetlovGetty Images_xi putin Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

    The White Swans of 2020

    Nouriel Roubini

    Financial markets remain blissfully in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year, particularly in the months before the US presidential election. In addition to the increasingly obvious risks associated with climate change, at least four countries want to destabilize the US from within.

    8
  3. tharoor137_ Hafiz AhmedAnadolu Agency via Getty Images_india protest Hafiz Ahmed/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

    Pariah India

    Shashi Tharoor laments that the government's intolerant chauvinism is leaving the country increasingly isolated.