Jens Weidmann: Deglobalisation, disrupted education and debt - economic policy challenges following the pandemic

Speech by Dr Jens Weidmann, President of the Deutsche Bundesbank and Chair of the Board of Directors of the Bank for International Settlements, at Harvard University, virtual event, 19 October 2020.

The views expressed in this speech are those of the speaker and not the view of the BIS.

Central bank speech  | 
20 October 2020

1 Introduction

Dear Beatrice, dear Ben, dear Hans-Helmut

Dear students and faculty

I would like to thank you for inviting me to speak to you today. Much to my regret, it is not possible to hold this event physically in Cambridge - I would have loved to return to meet you face to face on the campus of your time-honoured institution. I say "time-honoured" not only because Harvard has long been a byword for outstanding academic achievement, but also because it is the birthplace of so many shared ideas that have shaped the world. Looking back, Harvard University has heard many famous speeches. One of the most influential addresses was undoubtedly that delivered by Secretary of State George Marshall after World War II.

Germany had perpetrated unprecedented crimes against humanity. It had brought death, destruction, and unimaginable suffering on Europe. Now, many of the continent's cities lay in ruins, and its economies were in tatters, struggling just to meet people's everyday needs. Distributional conflicts were brewing in societies where some of the survivors had lost everything. Given the experience of wartime rationing and the apparent allure of the Soviet Union, many people were looking for further state intervention and central planning as remedies.

But in his 1947 commencement address, George Marshall offered an alternative - and large-scale economic aid by the US to support the reconstruction of the war-ravaged continent. He stated that US "[-] policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist." The speech laid the foundation for the European Recovery Program, better known as the Marshall Plan.