Christine Lagarde: Unlocking the power of ideas

Speech by Ms Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank, at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, 22 April 2024. 

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

Central bank speech  | 
26 April 2024

It is a pleasure to be here.

The Yale Jackson School of Global Affairs attracts some of the sharpest minds of each generation, shaping their talent and inspiring them to pursue exceptional careers in diplomacy and public policy.

And there is plenty to be inspired by while studying at Yale. Not too far from here, tucked away in the Sterling Memorial Library in the heart of Yale's campus, lie the papers of America's first diplomat, Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin was many things – ambassador to France, scientist, inventor, writer and publisher, to name a few – but above all, he was a man of ideas. As a young man, around the same age as some of you here, Franklin understood the power of ideas.

"All our ideas are first admitted by the senses and imprinted on the brain, increasing in number by observation and experience," he wrote. "There they become the subjects of the soul's action."

By inspiring action, ideas can help us grow. This might be personal growth – a student's learning, say, allowing them to make the right decisions throughout their future career. But it holds at the societal level too: ideas help push our economies forward.

In recent decades, we had few barriers globally to the flow of ideas. Advanced economies shared their technologies with emerging ones, and emerging economies shared their cheaper input costs with us – the process we knew as "globalisation".

But in recent years, the global economic order as we know it has been changing.

We now see that previously emerging economies are taking leadership in some advanced technologies. And we are seeing globalisation go into reverse, threatening access to the resources on which advanced technologies depend.

So, how do we all prosper in this new world?