The President's office just announced that the President has decided to appoint Zdeněk Tůma as the new governor of the Czech National Bank. A current board member Luděk Niedermayer succeeds Tůma as a new vice-governor. President has also decided to appoint two new board members that will step in for resigning governor Josef Tošovský and board member Miroslav Hrnčíř. New members of the board are Michaela Erbenová and Jan Frait.
We do not expect radical changes in the CNB's monetary policy, as the new governor and both vice-governors (Nidermayer and Oldřich Dědek) have been board members for some time and they have all shaped monetary up to now. However, the bank board makeup is significantly younger and the majority of board members did not work at the central bank prior to their appointment. Both new board members have excellent professional credentials but they have not been tried in practical affairs of monetary policy. Thus, the bank board might become now more independent and more assertive. The good news is that no one from the new members is politically affiliated.
The Bank Board is the CNB's governing body and has seven members: the governor, two vice-governors and four senior Bank officials. They are appointed for six-year periods. The main responsibility of the Board is monetary policy, mainly interest-rate setting, which gives it an important role in the economic policy, and the supervision of the banking sector. Oldřich Dědek (47) stays as a vice-governor and Pavel Racocha (38) and Pavel Štěpánek (44) finalize the board list.
Zdeněk Tůma (40, new governor) - Zdeněk Tůma has been a vice-governor of the ČNB since February 1999. Before that he was a director of the EBRD in London. Until mid 1998 he was the Chief Economist at Patria Finance and Professor of Economics at the Charles University. Mr. Tůma has been active in research and policy advice and is widely regarded as a top-notch professional. He is widely respected at financial markets and was considered as the most influential board member except the former governor Tošovský. His priority will probably be stabilization of low inflation environment.
Luděk Niedermayer (34, new vice-governor) - graduated in 1991 from the Masaryk University in Brno. Since 1991 he has been working at the central bank and since 1996 he has headed the money market operations division and served on the bank board. He is a respected expert on financial economics and he has attended a number of major financial institutions, including investment banks and international institutions. He is considered to be one of the hawkish board members and he has criticized the government for too a loose fiscal policy.
Michaela Erbenová (32, a new board member) obtained Ph.D. in economics from CERGE, Charles University in 1996. She studied at Princeton and Harvard universities and worked as a consultant for the OECD in Paris (1994 - 1995). In the period of 1996-1997 she worked as an advisor to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic Václav Klaus and since the fall of 1997 she was the chief advisor to the Minister of Finance Ivan Pilip. Since 1998 she worked at Komerční banka. She lectures economics of European integration and labor economics at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Charles University. She is economically liberal, but her views on monetary policy are unknown.
Jan Frait (35, a new board member) received Ph.D. in economics from the Economics faculty in Ostrava where he now serves as a vice-dean. He studied at universities in Reading and Liverpool. He is a leading expert on macroeconomics, monetary economics and financial economics and has published a long list of papers in Czech and international journals. His roots in North-Moravian city of Ostrava might be his comparative advantage as he has not been involved in (mostly Prague concentrated) political infighting. His views on monetary policy conduct in the Czech Republic are unknown.
We do not expect any significant changes in the CNB's policy. The new members do not diverge from the outgoing members in their views on monetary policy. However, the new make-up of the bank board is decisively younger and less stained by the central bank political fights. The new board looks politically independent and perhaps more assertive towards politicians. Both "promoted" board members - Zdeněk Tůma and Luděk Niedermayer - have been most outspoken board members and are considered as inflation hawks. Two new members have excellent academic credentials but it remains to be seen how they will cope with day-to-day monetary policy conduct. The decisively good news is the apparent political neutrality of all new Board members.