Christine Lagarde: Globalisation after the pandemic

2021 Per Jacobsson Lecture by Ms Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, at the IMF Annual Meetings, 16 October 2021.

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

Central bank speech  | 
18 November 2021

It is a pleasure to be back in Washington and to deliver this year's Per Jacobsson Lecture.

As a young man in the 1920s, Jacobsson worked in the Economic and Financial Section of the League of Nations Secretariat. There, he was actively involved in work on Europe's financial reconstruction in the wake of the greatest shock that had hit the continent: the First World War.

The outbreak of that conflict in 1914, which killed so many and injured even more, marked the end of the first era of globalisation. The unprecedented flows of trade that had characterised the global economy between the 1870s and the early 1900s collapsed, as borders were replaced by battlelines.

The pre-war world quickly became, as the writer Stefan Zweig put it, "the world of yesterday". This shows how fast what had once seemed so permanent can change. Globalisation will always be vulnerable to global shocks, as we have recently seen with the pandemic.