Finance: Research, Policy and Anecdotes

2020 promised to be an interesting year, full of new projects and interesting policy work.  It started with great trips to Barbados and Nairobi.  Then, as for most people, in March, my world split into two parallel universes: in one, I was scheduled to travel to Albania, Japan, Korea, Myanmar, Tanzania and Uganda with lots of shorter trips within Europe – and that was before the summer. In the other – real – universe, all travel got cancelled and then the first lockdown started. Teaching had to be transferred online within a few days and I learned quite a lot of new communication tools. My initial plan was to use the lockdown to do what I had been wishing to do for years – read up on lots of interesting papers and books that had been piling up in my office and on my computer. Again, reality had different plans. On the one hand, I became part of a swift trend among economists to use the COVID-19 shock for research purposes, not just to increase the number of papers with my name on it, but also to contribute to the policy debate in the current crises. Some of my existing research also took on renewed urgency, such as my paper on bank resolution frameworks. On the other hand, I was asked to chair a Task Force at the European Systemic Risk Board on pay-out restrictions for financial institutions, which resulted in an ESRB Recommendation in June. There is a lot to be said and written about the policy making process, which I will leave for another day, but seeing economic policy discussions feeding directly into actual policy making is certainly fascinating. And as discussed in my previous post, I was asked to co-chair a second task force in late September to prepare a potential extension or amendment of this recommendation, which now has also concluded.

If 2020 was ‘interesting’, I very hope much hope that 2021 will be both more boring and more interesting. More boring in the sense of bringing more certainty.  However, it will certainly be also more interesting, as it will bring professional changes for me and exciting new challenges (more on this in the New Year).

On a final note, we economists often describe ourselves as introvert. When talking on Skype before COVID-19 I would normally not have turned on the camera.  The pandemic has taught us the importance of personal contact – seeing people on the screen is certainly better than just hearing them.  Neither substitutes for face-to-face and so, like most in our profession and in our world, I hope we are back to traveling and in-person meetings soon.

24. Dec, 2020