Wednesday 22 November 2017

The Punt: IMF numbers man retires

Olivier Blanchard
Olivier Blanchard

The International Monetary Fund's chief economist during the global economic crisis is to leave the Washington-based fund.

Olivier Blanchard, pictured, will step down from the Fund at the end of September.

Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director, heaped praise on Blanchard yesterday, saying that she has valued his "wise counsel" and friendship.

"As one of the world's leading macroeconomists, Olivier has been on the forefront of the Fund's response to the global financial crisis, spurring a fundamental rethinking of macroeconomic policy that is still reverberating in academic and policy circles," Lagarde said.

"On a more personal note, I have immensely valued Olivier's intellectual leadership, wise counsel, friendship and loyalty during the past four years. Like everyone else at the Fund, I will miss him."

Blanchard is leaving to take up an academic position at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

As expected, he has a very impressive CV.

A citizen of France, Blanchard has spent most of his professional life in the United States.

After obtaining his PhD in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977, he taught at Harvard before returning to MIT in 1982.

Frankfurt frowns

Its all getting a bit tense again in Europe. The head of Germany's Bundesbank is the latest senior figure sounding off in public about the apparently intractable Greek crisis. 

Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann has "ripped" into the European Central Bank (ECB), according to Reuters, saying emergency funding for Greek banks broke the "taboo" (we prefer the word "rule" but anyway) against financing governments, and said it was not up to central banks to decide who was or wasn't in the Eurozone.

Oddly enough when he's not at the Bundesbank in Frankfurt, Jens Weidmann can be found at the ECB, in the same city, where he has a seat at the board.

In an interview with German newspaper 'Handelsblatt', Weidmann was asked about the ECB potentially stopping emergency funding to Greek banks - and indirectly the government in Athens.

If it happened it might force Greece out of the euro.

Central banks are not responsible for "the make-up of the Eurozone or aid payments," he said.

Panoz keeps the party going

Elan founder Don Panoz turned 80 a few months ago and continues to churn out ideas.

He established the drug company - which was sold in 2013 for €6.3bn to Perrigo - in a shed at the back of his garden in 1969, before shifting the operation to Athone.

A pharmacist with an Italian father and an Irish mother, he's credited with inventing the nicotine patch.

He did that at another pharma company he co-founded, Mylan, which ironically, has been hunting Perrigo in a $34bn deal.

Another drug company, Teva, is trying to buy Perrigo for over $40bn.

Meanwhile, Panoz has been keeping busy with the other passion in his life - motor cars.

He's been involved in developing a new car chassis and body design called DeltaWing Vehicle Architecture.

A racing car already exists that uses the design, but Panoz has confirmed that a roadcar version is also in development.

The 'Atlanta Business Chronicle' carried an extensive piece this week on Panoz, lauding his long entrepreneurial career.

"Don has invented, bought, acquired, and developed more ideas that most people ever dream about. We need more like him," it said.

Irish Independent

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