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ECB names Belgium's Peter Praet as new chief economist

The European Central Bank on Tuesday named executive board member Peter Braet of Belgium as its new chief economist. He takes the reins at a challenging time, as part of his duties include determining legal issues surrounding bailouts.


AP - European Central Bank official Peter Praet has been named chief of economics in a reshuffle of top responsibilities at the bank.

The 62-year-old Belgian takes over the responsibilities of Juergen Stark, who resigned, the bank said in a statement Tuesday.

Praet’s new responsibilities are key because he oversees the ECB economists who prepare the projections on which interest rate decisions for the 17-country eurozone are based.

Praet has served on the six-member ECB executive board since June. His responsibilities have included human resources, budget and payment systems.

There had been speculation that responsibility for the ECB’s economics department would fall to new board member Joerg Asmussen, who was named after Stark quit, or Benoit Coeure. Both joined the bank’s leadership on Jan. 1.

Instead Asmussen, a former German deputy finance minister, will be responsible for representing the ECB at international meetings. He will also oversee the legal department, a key responsibility amid legal controversy over how far the bank can go in bailing out eurozone governments under the EU treaty.

Coeure, who came to the ECB from the French Treasury, will be responsible for market operations and information systems. Coeure joined the ECB after executive board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi resigned.

The executive board, which includes bank President Mario Draghi, supervises day-to-day operations at the bank’s headquarters in Frankfurt.

The six board members also sit on the 23-member government council, which decides interest rates.

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