Lagarde’s German Colleague at ECB Offers Language-Lesson Starter

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(Bloomberg) --

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde’s promise to learn German has prompted some suggestions on what her first important word should be -- including from a German colleague.

In response to an informal Twitter poll, incoming Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel suggested Lagarde should start with “Vertrauen,” or “trust.”

Schnabel didn’t elaborate on her word choice in the poll, created by economist Rafael Mentges, but it’s in line with her message since being nominated to join the six-member body that crafts ECB policy. In an interview this week, she said factually inaccurate criticism of the central bank -- of the kind frequently seen in German media and some political circles -- “leads to an erosion of trust in the ECB and the euro.”

“Vertrauen” wasn’t even one of the four options offered by Mentges. The poll attracted 62 votes, with almost half going to “Bundesverfassungsgericht.” That’s the German constitutional court, the venue for past legal challenges to the ECB’s bond-buying programs.

The second-most popular option was “Enteignung der Sparer” -- meaning the expropriation of savers, a charge often leveled against ultra-low interest rates.

The other two options covered the title of a well-known book on payment imbalances within the euro region -- another trigger for some parts of the population -- and a term for the ECB’s two-pillar strategy for analyzing the risks to price stability.

Other suggestions included “Mut” -- “courage” -- from Bundesbank board member Burkhard Balz. Lagarde, who is French, told European lawmakers in December that she faces an accelerated learning curve that involves getting to grips with both German and the language of central banking.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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