New faces at the Bundesbank abroad – in New York, Brussels, Singapore and São Paulo

World map with city names

Dr Jens Reich – Representative at the Bundesbank’s Representative Office in New York

Jens Reich ©Jürgen Naumann
I have been heading up the Representative Office in New York since 1 August 2021. A total of seven Bundesbankers work at the office here. We are responsible for monitoring and analysing monetary policy, economic and political developments in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Representative Office also maintains an extensive liaison network including contacts from the Fed and other supervisory authorities, from banks and financial institutions as well as from associations and think tanks. Owing to pandemic restrictions, maintaining this network means meeting with numerous points of contact individually or in very small groups. Luckily, restaurant owners in New York have set up small and larger wooden booths on pavements and in parks so that these meetings can be held “outside” even at this time of the year.

The work we cover runs the gamut of topics at the Bundesbank, from developments in payments, the introduction of central bank digital currency, the finalisation of Basel III and monetary policy meetings through to supply chain difficulties. As far as that latter point is concerned, I have some personal experience of these supply problems because containers – such as the container with removal goods in our case – are taking months to be delivered. For us, this has led to an uneasy relationship with airbeds.

Marie-Therese Gold – Permanent Representation of the Federal Republic of Germany at the EU in Brussels

Marie-Therese Gold ©private
I have been working at the Permanent Representation since April 2021. The focus of my work here in Brussels is on banking regulation and payments. I previously worked in the Banking Supervision Law and International Banking Supervision Division at the Bundesbank.

In banking regulation, a lot happens at the international level. The compromises reached in Brussels have a major impact on legislation and regulation in EU Member States. One key dossier is the transposition of the finalised Basel III standard into EU law. The European Commission published its implementation proposals for this at the end of October 2021. Preparations have already begun at the council I attend. It is exciting to experience how such processes take place here and how negotiations are made between Member States, how compromises are reached and how things “work” at the institutions in Brussels.

My start in Brussels was affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. I had to quarantine when I first arrived, and in Belgium there was an obligation to work from home until the summer, which meant that the initial induction period was primarily virtual. The offices – like the whole of the European district – were pretty empty. “Normal” life only slowly started to return to the European district in the early summer.

Michael Schardt – German Embassy in Singapore

Michael Schardt ©Esther Yeo
I have been the representative of the Bundesbank for South-East Asia in Singapore since July 2021. In my previous role, I covered the Bank’s foreign reserves as a financial risk analyst. Preparing for the change of job and starting in Singapore was rather challenging, chiefly due to the pandemic. Following several weeks in quarantine, my wife and I quickly found our feet in our new environment. So far, we have particularly enjoyed the countless parks with all of their exotic flora and fauna, which we continue to find fascinating in this highly urbanised setting.

The work at the German Embassy is quite varied: in my role as a representative of the Bundesbank, I am responsible for reporting on financial and monetary policy developments in the region. I also act as a financial adviser within the Federal Foreign Office. As a trend-setting location within the fintech landscape, Singapore is also especially attractive to guests – which is why my tasks include accompanying delegates, maintaining contacts in the city and initiating events as well.

That said, the “traditional” options for maintaining contacts have been very much limited in Singapore over the past few months owing to the pandemic. I therefore hope that I will be able to travel soon and delve further into the topics that shape the future of the region and capture relevant developments for the Bundesbank on the ground here.

Alexander Lieber –Deutsches Generalkonsulat in São Paulo

Alexander Lieber ©Julius Calaminus
Oi, tudo bem? Hi, how’s it going? Since I arrived in São Paulo in July 2021 after leaving the division “International Monetary Affairs/IMF/G7/G20” at the Bundesbank, I have heard and said this greeting thousands of times – and luckily the coronavirus situation here has also improved significantly since then. Although normal life in the office has not yet returned in Brazil, people at the German Consulate General are now largely working at the office again and we can already meet up with some Brazilian contacts for lunch in small groups, for example.

We have some catching up to do. The ceremony to mark the change of office and the first visit to the Central Office of the Brazilian central bank and the German Embassy in Brasília will probably happen next year. The same goes for my maiden trips to Argentina and other South American countries whose developments I also track from here in São Paulo.

These are challenging times and there is still a lot to keep us on our toes: with the pandemic now seeming to have largely been brought under control, Brazil is facing major economic challenges as well as the presidential elections in October 2022, which are already casting their shadows in politics, media and the economy on a daily basis.

Text: Jens Reich, Marie-Therese Gold, Michael Schardt, Alexander Lieber