Deutsche Bank’s Ma Joins PBOC to Aid Drive to Change Economy

Deutsche Bank AG economist Ma Jun said he’s joining the People’s Bank of China to get involved in economic changes that he expects will be “very aggressive.”

Ma, 50, will be chief economist with the central bank’s research bureau, ending a 13-year stint with Deutsche, according to a message from Ma to clients this week and an internal Deutsche memo, both obtained by Bloomberg News.

Chinese officials face the challenge of shifting to a more market-driven economic system just as growth is slowing and risks accumulate from a credit boom. After last month widening the trading band for the yuan, the central bank’s planned next steps include scrapping constraints on deposit rates.

“My speculation is that the PBOC is about to start a round of aggressive financial liberalization,” said Huang Yiping, vice president of the National School of Development at Peking University and former chief Asia economist at Citigroup Inc. Ma’s appointment may aid the PBOC’s communication with capital markets as such changes are rolled out, Huang said from Beijing.

The position is newly created, Huang said. No comment was immediately available from the PBOC.

George Magnus, an independent senior economic adviser in London to UBS AG, said that Ma is “not really an outsider” because he’s previously had roles including working for a research arm of China’s State Council, or cabinet. “He is a widely recognized cheerleader for much of what the PBOC and its political bosses are articulating,” Magnus said in an email.

Yuan Policy

Ma’s thinking on foreign-exchange policy and the internationalization of the yuan will be closely scrutinized, Magnus added. The Chinese currency has tumbled more than 2 percent against the dollar this year.

In a January survey by Bloomberg News, Ma forecast 8.6 percent economic growth for China this year, the highest estimate of 50 economists. Deutsche later cut its projection to 7.8 percent.

“It is a great opportunity for me to be more involved in the next phase of China’s economic reform, which I expect to be very aggressive,” Ma said in an e-mail response today to questions about his move.

World Bank

Ma worked as economist and senior economist at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank from 1992 to 2000, according to a Deutsche biography. From 1988 to 1990, he was a research fellow at the Development Research Center of China’s State Council, the biography said. The economist holds a master’s degree from Fudan University in Shanghai and a Ph.D in economics from Georgetown University, it said.

Ma was based in Hong Kong while working for Deutsche.

In a February opinion piece in the China Daily, he said that a government anti-corruption campaign had made China’s political situation more stable, and forceful implementation of economic changes contrasted with the “political stalemate” in most other emerging economies.

The PBOC played “the critical role” in 2013 in China’s most fruitful year of financial reforms, including abolishing controls on lending rates and relaxing constraints on cross-border yuan movements, Ma said in a note in January.

— With assistance by Kevin Hamlin

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