Boštjan Vasle Appointed Slovenia’s Central Banker (News & Biography)

By , 20 Dec 2018, 11:50 AM Business
Boštjan Vasle, speaking earlier this year Boštjan Vasle, speaking earlier this year Screenshot from YouTube

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STA, 19 December 2018 - MPs appointed economist Boštjan Vasle central bank governor in a 51:28 vote on Wednesday. Vasle, who will be the fifth governor, will succeed Boštjan Jazbec who left Banka Slovenije for a new job in April. Vasle needed to secure at least 46 votes in a secret ballot in the 90-strong legislature.

Vasle served as the director of the government's macroeconomic think-tank IMAD for eleven years. When he laid out his bid in a public presentation in early December, he stressed his commitment to have Banka Slovenije operate as an open institution.

He has called for effective coordination of policies as economic growth is about to cool off and for the EU banking union to be completed as soon as possible.

While he emerged as the surprise frontrunner for the post after it became clear that other candidates would not get an absolute majority in parliament, the outcome of the vote had been unclear until the very end.

In the debate before the vote, Vasle appeared to have secured the votes of MPs from the Modern Centre Party (SMC), Social Democrats (SD), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which have a total of 30 MPs between them.

SAB deputy Maša Kociper said that he had not been the party's first pick, but once economist Igor Masten was out of the game, the party had to choose among the others, with Vasle coming out as a very good candidate.

However, Vasle was not backed by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the biggest coalition party, whose deputy group head Brane Golubović said he had never been their pick.

Likewise, the Left, the minority government's partner in the opposition, refused to back the candidate whom Luka Mesec, the leader of the Left, described as an advocate of neoliberal policies.

According to Mesec, Vasle sees the world "through the eyes of a capitalist and not a worker". The party also said that he had failed to distance himself from the actions of previous governors.

"Two governors of the past ten years are to blame for the banking hole and its tackling just as much as the governments," Mesec said in reference to the 2013 bank bailout.

The conservative opposition, the SDS, New Slovenia (NSi) and the National Party (SNS) had not disclosed in the debate whether they would endorse Vasle or not.

Banka Slovenije has been without a governor since April, when the former boss, Boštjan Jazbec, left for a job on the EU's Single Resolution Board. The central bank has since been led by acting governor Primož Dolenc, who failed to get appointed full-fledged governor in October.

Vasle will become the fifth central bank governor, following in the footsteps of Jazbec, Marko Kranjec, Mitja Gaspari and France Arhar.

Boštjan Vasle, a 49-year old analyst who wants a systematic, long-term approach

STA, 19 December 2018 - Economist Boštjan Vasle, 49, is coming to Banka Slovenije as the fifth governor of the country's central bank, having led the government's macroeconomic forecaster IMAD for eleven years. He is considered an independent expert and has largely kept out of the public eye.

Vasle started his career at the Finance Ministry after graduating from the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics in 1994.

He earned a master's degree in monetary policy from the Central European University in Budapest in 1997 before getting a job at the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD) as analyst in 2000.

In 2007, the Janez Janša cabinet appointed him IMAD director. He worked for IMAD until a month ago, when the Marjan Šarec government relieved him of his duties as acting director in a sign that he was a serious candidate for governor.

During his 18-year stint at IMAD, he briefly worked in 2006 for the Government Office for Development, which brought together several up-and-coming economists.

As IMAD director, Vasle has been involved in several key economic challenges, such as a programme to reduce inflation, Slovenia's eurozone integration and a programme of structural measures to address the recent economic crisis.

He has worked with all major decision-makers in Slovenia and with international institutions, such as the IMF, EU and European Central Bank. He is also a member of several expert boards in Slovenia and abroad.

The new governor is known for his systemic approach and communication with the public, which he also highlighted as a priority in running the central bank.

"Banka Slovenije must build its positions on expertise and present them publicly, not just within the eurozone, but also to the broader public, experts, politicians and the general public," he said when he presented his bid at Presidential Palace in early December.

He believes that as the supervisor of the banking sector, Banka Slovenije should not only monitor banks' operations but also work closely with other stakeholders in the sector.

Vasle also called for completing the EU's banking union and for the eurozone to reflect thoroughly on how to phase out unconventional monetary measures which had been needed to address the negative consequences of the recent crisis.

In his spare time, Vasle is an enthusiastic runner. "Running has been my most important sport over the past 30 years," he told a men's magazine a while ago.

He is trying to use some of his running experience at work. "If we treated economic problems as long-term challenges, our macroeconomic picture would definitely be better," he said at the time.

Vasle will replace Governor Boštjan Jazbec, who left for a high-profile job in the EU at the end of April, taking over from Vice Governor Primož Dolenc, who has led the central bank as acting governor in the meantime.

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