The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

Public Policy 85 - From Frankfurt to Basel (aka three countries in one day)

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Our final day in Frankfurt began with a visit to the Geldmuseum of the Deutsche Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank.  During the tour we were able to learn more about the evolution of money in Germany and the EU.  The fear of hyper-inflation, which seized the German economy in the 1920s, influenced and led to tight German monetary policy for the last century.  We were able to put this acute inflation worry in context given the newer European Central Bank’s chief objective – price stability.  We also discovered delightful visual representations of both The Economist's famed Big Mac Index and the paradigmatic financial bubble and crash, the Dutch tulip mania of 1637.

We next took a Deutsche Bahn train through the countryside to Basel, Switzerland.  Our tickets were initially addressed to Hanover, Germany, instead of Hanover, New Hampshire. This global DHL package chase caused more than a small headache for our Professor, but ended up just fine, as we avoided being forcibly removed from the train. 

After arriving in Basel and checking into our modernist hotel, which abutted a flowing creek and atmospheric plaza near the middle of the city, we headed to the Novartis Campus to meet with Aya Caldwell '06 and two of her colleagues.  Ms. Caldwell generously welcomed us to Novartis, gave us a tour of the architecturally significant campus and discussed her career and post-Dartmouth life more generally.  In addition to learning more about the intricacies of public-private partnerships to benefit global public health, including collaborations among firms, countries, NGOs, and academic partners in philanthropic efforts, we talked about how to navigate and carve out career paths and best utilize the skills we’ve acquired at Dartmouth once we leave Hanover.  The panel's insights on these broader points resonated, and nicely complemented comments from others with whom we have spoken in both Frankfurt and Athens.  A provocative and productive conversation about goals and fears that Ms. Caldwell sparked capped off our visit to Novartis.

To physically experience European integration, we wrapped up the evening with a walk across the Swiss border into France.  We literally just walked across the border; doing so was rather more straightforward than the hometown Ledyard Challenge.  The food was far more expensive on the Swiss side, which has retained its own unique currency, than the French side, which, because it has adopted the Euro, also allowed us to put our daily per diems to use. 

After a long day, we enjoyed a pre-dinner of French pastries, soon followed by a proper dinner of pasta.  Dinner yielded conversations about the logic and struggles of collective action (a variably-recurrent dinner theme), the day’s lessons, and preparations for the next day's meetings with officials at the Bank for International Settlements.  We look forward to adding an important set of views from the BIS's diverse group of experts representing a range of institutional perspectives.

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