The new president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde turned 64 on 1 January 2020. Credit: Belga
The new president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, has given herself a challenge that is perhaps still more difficult than keeping inflation in the euro zone under control: she is learning German, according to Bloomberg, which furthermore states that it is “easy to understand” that the ECB president should want to learn the language of the eurozone’s leading economy.
Germany has been critical vis-a-vis ECB’s monetary policy, and the Frenchwoman could perhaps get her message across better by couching it in German. The ECB’s headquarters is furthermore located in Frankfurt.
Learning the language of Goethe is no small affair. American author Mark Twain wrote an essay in 1880 entitled “The Awful German Language”, in which he reminisces about his efforts to learn it. “It appears the inventor of this language has taken a malicious pleasure in complicating things as much as possible,” the American notably writes.
According to Bloomberg, Lagarde, who turned 64 on yesterday, 1 January, will have to master terms like “Eigenmittelanforderungen”, meaning a bank’s capital requirement and “Anleihekaufprogramm”, or quantitative easing with reference to bond purchase programs.
Lagarde’s predecessors had some knowledge of German. The ECB’s first president, Dutchman Wim Duisenberg, had learned it before he even got to Frankfurt and his successor, Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet, invested time to allow him to deliver a speech in German in 2009, but did little afterwards to further develop his skills.
As for Mario Draghi however, ridiculed by the German tabloid “Bild” which once dubbed him “Draghila” because of the ECB’s negative rates policy, and the fact he spoke no German at all apart from giving a “nein zu allem” (“no to everything”) in 2016 in defence of the ECB’s stance when facing its critics.