women

Michael Steen

Watching the panel discussion on BBC’s Newsnight programme after the ECB’s announcement of its Outright Monetary Transactions policy last Thursday, a long-running criticism of central bankers was brought powerfully home even before any of the guests had opened their mouths.

For here was an all-woman group of qualified observers discussing decisions made in an environment so male-dominated it might as well be one of London’s traditional gentlemen’s clubs in St James.  The ECB has no women on its executive board and none of the 17 heads of eurozone central banks that join the executive board on the bank’s rate-setting governing council is led by a woman. And the ECB is far from an exception — women are exceptionally rare in central banks the world over.

Economists love to portray themselves as iconoclasts who follow the evidence and act rationally. So why is central banking gender politics so 19th century? Read more

Claire Jones

Today the Bundesbank has leapt to the defence of the much-maligned male banker, saying that it was not them, but the women on lenders’ boards that encouraged risk taking.

This from the FT’s Frankfurt bureau chief Ralph Atkins:

Board changes at banks that result in a higher proportion of female executives “lead to a more risky conduct of business”, concluded the authors of an extensive study of German finance houses released by the country’s central bank…

…Explaining their controversial findings, based on an analysis of German bank executive teams from 1994 to 2010, the report’s authors suggest a main reason is that women executives tend to be “significantly less experienced” than male counterparts and that a lack of experience drives risk taking.

The argument that women fail to control risk because they lack experience is a bit circular surely.

But, regardless of what has happened at German lenders, a plethora of women in their upper ranks is not an excuse that central banks can rely on in explaining their policy failures. Read more