Lady Europa takes on feminine colours
Christine Lagarde and Ursula von der Leyen set for ECB and European
Sébastien Galy, Sr. Macro Strategist Nordea Asset Management
Christine Lagarde and Ursula von der Leyen and are set for the European Central Bank (ECB) and European Commission presidency as Lady Europa takes on feminine colors. Both candidates are exceptional, known for their ability to build coalitions and should leave a lasting mark on Europe.
Christine Lagarde has been a stalwart of stability throughout her entire career. She started out in the government of François Fillon, serving in various arenas from economics to agriculture, and favored openness. As a labor lawyer she championed this cause making her neither clear cut from the left nor the right. During negotiations on the European bail out, she stuck with a familiar International Monetary Fund stance putting her firmly in the camps of the hawks. Yet she also reached out to take a significant risk with Argentina. Hence, she should be considered a consensus builder, one that adapts to the situation. She is likely to initially favor more easing as seems evident with the current slowdown and below target inflation. But as the situation reverses, so will her position, much as a pivot member within the Federal Reserve that turns from dove to hawk. Given resistance by the US administration, the use of more negative interest rates is likely to be moderate.
Ursula von der Leyen is noted for her ability to get the job done. She has served continuously in Angela Merkel’s government since 2005, lately as a defense minister. Her international background as a child in Belgium, fluency in French, and habit of dealing with senior figures from birth should serve her well. Her training as a doctor should help her to analyze diagnostic problems and then fix them. Her career as a professor has likely left her with the ease of managing peoples and groups, such as the European People’s Party defense minister group. Indeed, she impressed the French so much they proposed her candidacy to Angela Merkel. Politically, she belongs to the Christian Democratic Union of Germany, which is the center right. Her candidacy, however, is not a sure thing as it needs to be approved by the European Parliament.
This is a unique moment in the history of Europe finally to have not just one, but two female candidates at the Head of the ECB and the Commission. It suggests a change at the top of the European leadership and is a symptom of shifting structures, including attitudes towards gender diversity and climate change.