One Russian woman banking on change

Russia has its first woman to oversee the country's central bank.

Banking on change

Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters

In June, one of the world’s most important economies will get a new central-bank governor, and make history. And it’s not the U.K.’s acquisition of Mark Carney. Russian lawmakers have officially approved, by a huge margin, the appointment of the first woman to head that country’s central bank—or any central bank in the G8—Elvira Nabiullina.

Hand-picked by President Vladimir Putin over three male candidates, Nabiullina, 49, was one of the young economists who made their names as supporters of liberal economic reform as the Soviet Union collapsed. Recently, she is credited with helping finally bring Russia into the World Trade Organization in 2012. She takes over amid fears of another recession after more than a year of slow growth.

“If by autumn we don’t see growth for some period, we may slide into recession,” Economy Minister Andrei Belousov said last week, after the government cut its forecast for growth in 2013 to just 2.4 per cent, the lowest since 2009. A former economy minister herself, Nabiullina’s close relationship to Putin has raised expectations the bank could introduce policies more in line with the government’s, including more aggressive efforts to spur growth that are widely expected to include an interest-rate cut. But that carries the risk of exacerbating already high inflation, which she’s committed to reducing. She’ll oversee expanding the bank’s supervisory power and a push to transform Moscow into an international financial hub.

An impressive resumé has led to mostly praise at her appointment. Now, she has a tough four years to make history for more than just getting the job.

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