Luc Coene, Former ECB Governing Council Member, Dies at 69

  • Belgian economist was serving on ECB’s bank oversight body
  • He was on ECB Governing Council during region’s debt crisis

Luc Coene, a member of the European Central Bank’s supervisory unit and a former governor of the National Bank of Belgium, has died at age 69.

Coene, a graduate of the economics department of Ghent University, had a career spanning more than 40 years in central banking, government and international organizations. Following early positions at the NBB and the International Monetary Fund, he served in his country’s ministry of finance, as a senator and as chef de cabinet to Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt. As head of the NBB, Coene was on the ECB’s Governing Council from 2011 to 2015 as policy makers tackled the region’s sovereign debt crisis.

Luc Coene

Photographer: Norm Betts/Bloomberg

His death was confirmed by a spokesman for the NBB.

As a monetary-policy official, Coene often played a role as an intellectual defender of stimulus policies enacted under President Mario Draghi. After the ECB’s controversial Outright Monetary Transactions bond-buying program was unveiled in 2012, Coene said it was akin to a nuclear deterrent that would be best left unused. While the presence of the program helped stem the crisis, it indeed has yet to be tapped.

“It is with great sadness that I received the news of the passing of Luc Coene,” Draghi said in a statement released by the ECB on Friday. “With gratitude we will remember his dedication and engagement.”

Following the end of his tenure as NBB governor, Coene was appointed as one of the ECB’s representatives on the region’s new bank-oversight body, the Single Supervisory Mechanism. In the ECB statement, SSM Chair Daniele Nouy said his “thoughtful contributions and prudent analysis” will be missed.

— With assistance by John Martens

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