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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Is the E.U. Relying Too Much on the IMF?

According to the New York Times, the IMF had more influence in the European debt crisis than did many E.U. states. Put another way, Christine Lagarde, head of the organization, became “a quasi head of state.” Without the advice and money from the IMF, the euro might have collapsed. If one could believe the rhetoric, the E.U. itself might have broken up. But the threat to the Union lies not in the euro, but, rather, on the emphasis on the state governments and in particular their respective officials. Indeed, the crucial role of the IMF during the debt crisis may have been in looking out for the interests of the E.U. in contradistinction to the various interests of the state governments. “In the absence of a strong federal government in Europe,” according to the Times, the IMF has helped “impose order on quarreling [state] leaders.” Put another way, if the balance of power in the federal system did not reside with the states at the expense of the federal government, the Europeans would not have had to rely on the IMF so much. For example, Lagarde played an important role, according to the Times, in “overcoming German reluctance to accept proposals intended to strengthen the euro zone, like a centralized bank supervisor.” Because the proposals involved shifting additional governmental sovereignty from the state governments to the federal level, the heads of the state governments faced a conflict of interest in assessing whether to support a federal regulator even though it would be in the interest of the whole.

The full essay is at "Essays on the E.U. Political Economy," available at Amazon.                                               

Monday, April 15, 2013

JPMorgan’s Management: Overly-Defensive From Weakness?

According to the Wall Street Journal, at JPMorgan, the largest U.S. bank by assets, revenue in the first quarter of 2013 fell 4% from the same period a year earlier. The mortgage squeeze affected the firms' overall results. Net-interest income, which reflects the amount a bank makes from its loans, dipped 6%, to $10.9 billion, from a year earlier. Even so, J.P. Morgan's net income rose 33%, to $6.53 billion, or $1.59 a share, as a jump in investment-banking income and a cut in expenses helped cushion the mortgage pullback.

The full essay is at "JPMorgan: An Unethical Monstrosity?"

On the Roles of Mentors and Sponsors in Leadership Development

In the corporate world, distinguishing between a mentor, sponsor, and leader can be difficult. As people can get carried away in describing their roles, it is necessary to clearly demarcate the three. According to Sylvia Hewlett , mentors “act as  a sounding board or a shoulder to cry on, offering advice as needed and support and guidance as requested.” A sponsor is “a powerfully positioned champion” who offers “guidance and critical feedback.” Although appropriating “champion” from sports does not fit, the distinction between critical feedback and “support and guidance” is worth exploring.
Material from this essay has been incorporated into The Essence of Leadership: A Cross-Cultural Foundation, which is available in print and as an ebook at Amazon. 


Sylvia A. Hewlett, “Mentors Are Good. Sponsors Are Better,” The New York Times, April 13, 2013.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

European Central Bank As Supervisor: Conflicts of Interest

Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, raised additional concerns in April 2013 about a proposal to create a single banking supervisor for the European Union. About 150 large banks would be under the direct supervision of the European Central Bank, which would also have the power to intervene to oversee smaller lenders. This proposal had been set as a precondition for states to draw on the E.U.’s bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism, to recapitalize struggling lenders directly. To analyze Schäuble’s potential stumbling blocks, it is necessary to understand the conflicts of interest that are involved.
                                                                                 Wolfgang Schäuble, the German finance minister, active at the E.U. level. Source: The Telegraph.

The full essay is at "Essays on the E.U. Political Economy." Available at Amazon.