This former Deputy Director General of the Economic Analysis Council (CAE) has been appointed Chief Economist of the Treasury. A researcher recognized by her peers, Agnès Benassy-Quéré is a specialist in European issues and international macroeconomics.
It had been six months since the Treasury no longer had a chief economist with the departure of Michel Houdebine from the Court of Auditors. This void is now filled, and it is a woman that Bruno Le Maire has chosen to lead this team of a hundred economists. Agnès Bénassy-Quéré will make her debut on June 8 at Bercy.
This renowned economist arrives at “A dizzying moment”, as she says herself. The Covid19 crisis sweeps away many certainties and obliges “To ask fundamental questions, about what debt and currency are, about the green growth model, about metropolitanization, the future of the European Union”, according to this mother of three, married to a renowned physicist.
Close to Benoît Coeuré, ex-BCE, to Jean-Pisani-Ferry and Laurence Boone, from the OECD, this energetic and curious woman sits on the High Council for Financial Stability, where she worked alongside the current Minister of the Economy, who also consulted her regularly with other economists during the Covid crisis.
One of the characteristics of Agnès Benassy Quéré – quite classic among the French elites but from which she never wavers – is to be deeply pro-European. And even more today. “States must realize the value of the European Union, the single market and the euro accept to pay the price for this prosperity”, she says of the few countries reluctant to more solidarity between member states. “Today, the ECB cannot be alone to do all the work. We must support monetary policy with an adequate fiscal policy ”, she judges.
Professor of economics
It is an oddity in this milieu of academics and X-Ensae, Agnès Bénassy-Quéré attended a management school, the ECSP at the end of the 80s. “Although a macroeconomist, I retain a particular sensitivity for microeconomic questions that arise in business”, estimate the one who also says to herself “Impressed by the entrepreneurs and the risk-taking that this implies”.
The future chief economist of the Treasury embarked on a thesis on exchange rates and has remained passionate about international macroeconomic and monetary issues ever since. She began her career at the Treasury in the forecasting department, quickly quitting her post to become a professor of economics at various universities. In 2012, she was appointed head of the Economic Analysis Council (CAE), a think tank linked to Matignon, by Jean-Marc Ayrault. Politically marked, Agnès Bénassy-Quéré?
“I try to maintain a Chinese wall between my opinions and my work as an economist”, she explains. “In my professional practice, there is no place for political convictions”, she assures.
Author, with Jean Tirole, of “The economist in the city”
“The economist must stay in his place. It shows the benefits and costs of the various trade-offs, but it’s up to the politicians to decide. Of course, economists, like everyone else, have cognitive biases. The models we develop are based on assumptions, that is, choices. The important thing is to explain them clearly, to be transparent ”, continues Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, author with the Nobel Prize Jean Tirole and the former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, Olivier Blanchard, of a note in 2017 entitled “the economist in the city”. This note advocated first “Systematic use of teams of teacher-researchers to assess the effectiveness of public policies”. After that, “To facilitate back and forth between the academic world and that of public decision-making”. That’s done.