Andrea Maechler

Member of the Governing Board Swiss National Bank, Zurich, switzerland
She is a key lever to the health of Switzerland's economy

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN

Andréa M. Maechler is the first woman appointed by Swiss Federal Council to become a member of the  Swiss National Bank (SNB) Governing Board. Why? Her economics expertise had her overseeing the analytical work relating to systemic risks in the European Union at the IMF, as well as the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) in Frankfurt.

Facilitating and securing the operation of cashless payment systems in Switzerland is one of the SNB’s statutory tasks. Hence, the SNB is closely monitoring the developments to deepen the understanding of the implications of new technologies on the financial system.

Hear Andréa M. Maechler speak at WORLDWEBFORUM 2019 about the challenge of accommodating and encouraging Fintech innovations without jeopardizing the safety and resilience of the financial system, in particular of the payment infrastructure that underpins all economic activities.

About SNB

Facilitating and securing the operation of cashless payment systems in Switzerland is one of the SNB’s statutory tasks. As a result, the SNB monitors developments in the Fintech area very closely with the aim of maintaining an environment that fosters innovation without jeopardizing the safety and resilience of the financial market infrastructure, particularly with regard to the cash-side of transactions.

Pragmatic and Empirical

A degree in international relations and economics was therefore close to graduation in Geneva. Maechler began in Toronto, where sport and study could be ideally combined, completed her studies in Geneva before moving to Paris and California for her doctorate.

Were there any professors or schools of thought that influenced her in this way? Maechler denied it. The driving force was not a particular school of thought or person, but rather the question of how the many individual parts – such as microeconomics, the monetary system or trade policy – somehow fit together.

Not averse to the more technical aspects of the economy, it seems to orient itself above all to empiricism, to data. Her work in international organizations has taught her not to think strictly in terms of textbooks. What works in one country does not have to be right in another.

Pragmatism currently also seems to set the direction in international monetary policy. But the displeasure with the globally very unconventional monetary policy is growing.

Maechler does not want to answer the question of whether the dangerous side effects of the large-scale monetary experiment have long since outweighed the intended positive consequences with a clear yes or no.

This is an empirical question that cannot yet be answered. Certainly, according to their assessment, most central banks would prefer to live in a different, better world. “The SNB would also like to do without negative interest rates. But would Switzerland then be better off? Certainly not. Maechler recalls that monetary policy is not a wishful thinking. You have to work with the means you have at your disposal. And negative interest rates are one of these means.

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BIOGRAPHY

Andréa M. Maechler was born in Geneva in 1969. She studied economics at the University of Toronto, and then at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, where she obtained her Master’s in International Economics. Following a period of study at the Institute of Advanced Studies in Public Administration in Lausanne, she obtained her PhD in International Economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2000.

Andréa M. Maechler’s early career took her to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the World Trade Organization (WTO). From 1999 to 2001, she worked as an economist in the Swiss National Bank’s (SNB) Financial Stability unit in Zurich. She then moved to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), where she occupied a number of senior positions in the Africa, Monetary and Capital Markets, Western Hemisphere and Strategy, Policy and Review departments.

From 2012 to 2014, during a sabbatical from the IMF, she worked for the European Systemic Risk Board (ESRB) in Frankfurt. Upon returning to the IMF, she was appointed as Deputy Division Chief in the Global Markets Analysis Division. The functions of this division include monitoring global capital markets, and assessing systemic risks and the macrofinancial impact of capital market developments.

With effect from 1 July 2015, the Federal Council appointed Andréa M. Maechler as Member of the SNB’s Governing Board – the first woman to occupy a Board position. At the same time, she became Head of Department III (Financial Markets, Banking Operations and Information Technology).