Colombia Names Second Ever Woman to Central Bank Board

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos today named Deputy Finance Minister Ana Fernanda Maiguashca as the second woman ever to serve on the central bank’s seven-member policy committee. He also named Adolfo Meisel, head of the central bank’s regional branch in Cartagena, to the board.

Maiguashca, 38, has already spent 11 years at Banco de la Republica, after joining as an intern in 1995 while studying economics at Bogota’s University of the Andes. She argues that the bank should pursue a range of goals beyond a simple focus on consumer prices.

“You don’t need to put anything above inflation to worry about other things,” Maiguashca said in a Feb. 12 interview in her office at the Finance Ministry. “You can walk and chew gum at the same time.”

Maiguashca will probably side with Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas in arguing for a pro-growth monetary policy, said Camilo Perez, head analyst at Banco de Bogota SA. The central bank will cut its benchmark interest rate a quarter point for the sixth time since June at its policy meeting tomorrow, to 3.75 percent, according to 23 of 26 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

“Since she’s coming from the government, she’ll probably have a dovish stance at least at the beginning,” Perez said in a telephone interview.

Maiguashca won’t take part in the bank’s policy meeting tomorrow, she said in a telephone interview today.

’Hawkish’ Side

Alejandro Reyes, head analyst at Ultrabursatiles SA brokerage, who worked for eight years at the central bank, said Meisel will probably align with bank governor Jose Dario Uribe on the “hawkish” side of the bank’s board.

Yields on the government’s benchmark peso-denominated bonds due in 2024 plunged four basis points, or 0.04 percentage point, to 4.98 percent at 9:44 a.m. in Bogota, the lowest level since the bonds were issued in 2009.

At the Finance Ministry, Maiguashca helped engineer a decline in the Andean nation’s borrowing costs by promoting a tax cut on foreigners’ profits on local bonds to 14 percent from 33 percent, a measure that Congress approved in December. The resulting boost in demand for the bonds helped bring down yields.

She has an MBA from Columbia University in New York, with the central bank funding her studies from 2000-2002.

Like Governor Uribe, and Brazilian central bank President Alexandre Tombini, Meisel has a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He also studied at Yale University and the University of Kiel, Germany, according to the central bank.

Strong Peso

Financial stability should be one of the central bank’s main concerns, as policy makers pursue sustainable long-term growth, Maiguashca said. She also said that Colombia has a “problem” with its strong peso, which is destroying installed capacity by making imports cheaper and exports more expensive.

She has also worked for Colombia’s market regulator, and as chief economist for AFP Porvenir, a local pension fund controlled by billionaire Luis Carlos Sarmiento’s Grupo Aval.

“She knows the financial markets very well, and the transmission mechanisms of monetary policy in these markets. She’s pragmatic, and orthodox,” central bank co-director Juan Pablo Zarate said today in a telephone interview. “Adolfo knows a lot about the regional economy, and economic history.”

They will replace outgoing co-directors Juan Jose Echavarria and Fernando Tenjo, who left the bank after its January policy meeting.

Maiguashca is the first woman to serve on the bank’s board since Maria Mercedes Cuellar from 1991-1996.

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