Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Global financial experts must understand French and/or Spanish

My greatgrandfather Bernardo de Ferrante was doctor in Amalfi.
 Painting by Aafke Steenhuis.
My wife paints, I play guitar. What has this to do with global finance, which is the main topic of this blog?

My bisnonno Bernardo de Ferrante was a doctor (medico condotto) in Amalfi, Praiano, Capri and Napoli. Any relationship with global finance?

Yesterday I attended a meeting of the association Robert Triffin International, RTI, in Brussels. Is there a relationship with global finance?

Yes, because Robert Triffin was a man who spent most of his life thinking and acting in the realm of global finance. The people I met yesterday in Brussels at the meeting of RTI are also spending much of their life to global finance.

Robert Triffin was the son of a small French-speaking farmer and got his PhD in the United States. He hoped he would get a job at Leuven University but as the university wanted Flemish speaking economists, he did not get it. He decided to return to the US. On the ship to the US he met a nice American woman, married her and became a famous professor at Yale University. Many years later he returned to Belgium and that is where I met him, at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve.

Yesterday I proposed to the other members of the Board of Robert Triffin International that new members should be able to speak French.

My proposal met with strong disagreement. Among others, it came from an Italian board member, who said that this would be completely against the spirit of Robert Triffin, who had always been willing to adapt his language to the person he was talking to. Triffin spoke fluently French, English, Spanish...

I explained that I also adapt myself to the language the other person speaks, but that my proposal to require that new board members would speak or understand French and/or Spanish had to do with a key problem: Anglosaxons who speak only English have a limited view of the world and, consequently, a limited view of global finance.

I had the feeling that some of the board members did not fully understand what I was talking about...

I will explain in a next post.

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