ECB gets down with the kids

June 20, 2012

Jens Weidmann, Christian Noyer, Yves Mersch and the rest of the ECB’s Governing Council might want to start looking over their shoulders – Mario Draghi is now asking school pupils how the bank should set its policies.

Star secondary-school pupils from all over the Europe gathered in Frankfurt on Wednesday to display their monetary policy skills and received high praise from Draghi.

The 13 winning teams from 11 euro zone countries, from Finland to Portugal and Spain (but none from problem child Greece) were asked what actions they would take if they were in charge of the ECB.

While the pupils diplomatically said that Draghi’s job was not easy, they indicated they would not copy current ECB policy if they had their say. Asked whether the 17-country bloc’s central bank should do more to help Spain cope with the debt crisis, Victoria Fernandez from International College Spain in Madrid said her team would have done more this month.

“Help is never bad,” Fernandez, 17, said, “but we’re biased,” she added.

The hardest thing was not the decision on whether or not to cut rates or start buying government bonds, Fernandez’s team mate Daniela Pacheco said.

“The most difficult part was to handle your nerves, because you’ve been preparing such a long time,” the 18-year-old Spaniard said.

She added that the questions they received were much harder than the ones journalists posed to Draghi in the June press conference. “The most difficult one was related to malfunctioning of the (monetary policy) transmission mechanism and the LTROs,” Pacheco said, fluently using ECB lingo for ultra-long 3-year refinancing operations.

At the award ceremony, Draghi noted that the contestants, most of whom are between 16 and 18 years old, were the first generation to grow up with the euro.  “You’ve never seen the previous currency, the D-mark, the lira or the drachma,” Draghi said. “I hope we won’t see them again,” he deadpanned, referring to speculation about Greece dropping the single currency and returning to drachma.

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