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Belgian takes de facto role

Belgian takes de facto role

(9 January 2011 – Europe) The European Central Bank (ECB) has named Belgian Peter Praet, as de facto chief economist, breaking a tradition of German hardliners occupying the post. Dr Praet is a former economist and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and has been a member of the central bank's executive board since June, will succeed Juergen Stark as head of the economics department. Dr Stark resigned because he opposed the bank's intervention in sovereign bond markets.

Praet, 62, is part of a big shift in top management that could lead to a less hardline approach by the institution with the most direct control over the fate of the euro.

The New York Times reported Joerg Asmussen, a former top-ranking official in the German Finance Ministry, moved to the central bank this week. Benoit Coeure, former deputy director-general of the French Treasury, also joined the six-member executive board at the beginning of the month.

The head of the economics department briefs the bank's council on the euro-zone economy, and can play an important role in setting monetary policy.
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