Public Policy 85 - The ECB, the IMF, and Global Populism

We began our second day in Frankfurt by puzzling over the public transportation system.  A bit of collaborative mapwork eventually got us on the S-Bahn, headed toward the European Central Bank.  Along the way, much was made of the quietness in the car and the smoothness of the ride.  For those of us used to the rattle and bustle of American public transport, it was quite a change of pace.

At the ECB, we were treated to lecture on the ECB's institutional framework and its monetary policy by Dr. Michael Sturm, Advisor to the Directorate General of International and European Relations.  We weren't the only ones in the audience — we were joined by other groups coming from nearby Mainz, and also Poland and Thailand.  We were, however, first to arrive, representing the positive trend in the PBPL85 Aggregate Punctuality Index.

After a fascinating Q&A on new and timely developments on monetary policy, some necessary photo ops were taken in the futuristic entry area of the ECB's headquarters. We stopped­­ by the Press Room where the Bank's Governing Council will release its monetary policy decision this Thursday. In spite of our efforts and The Dartmouth's international renown, the Bank politely declined to grant us press passes. We grabbed McDonald's (again, don't judge; we were in a hurry), and returned to the hotel for a Skype conversation with Dr. Neil Shenai, an Advisor at the IMF. 

Not only did the conversation with Dr. Shenai cover a range of helpful political and policy insights regarding the Fund, International Political Economy, and the crisis more generally, but Dr. Shenai also offered some much-appreciated career and life advice drawn from his own experiences.  We later found out that Dr. Shenai and Professor Nachlis have been friends since attending Pittsford Mendon High School together in Rochester, NY.  Between Shenai, Nachlis, and Dartmouth Government Professor Julie Rose, who happily joined us for most of the trip and is also a graduate of the same venerable institution, we learned that Rochester, NY seems to punch above its weight in the production of social science Ph.Ds.  The conversation with Shenai also demonstrated the excellent quality of the hotel's Wifi, which we could not help but notice handily beat Eduroam.

We next took a brief break to take care of errands and laundry.  Seemingly dull affairs, these were lightened up by another opportunity to use Frankfurt's formidable motorized scooter network.  The Lime (and now also Circ) brigade of PBPL 85 has already become a fixture (dare we say menace?) of the city's streets.

A fascinating video conversation about global right-wing populist movements with Alison Klayman, the internationally renowned documentarian, capped off the day.  Klayman's most recent film, The Brink, chronicles Steve Bannon's efforts to forge a global anti-globalist movement.  Klayman's insights as both a filmmaker and observer about the goals, strategies, present state, and future course of right-wing populist movements yielded a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion within the group.  We also discussed broader issues of the contemporary political news media and different approaches to creating politically-relevant art.

To conclude the day, redeem our earlier McDonald's run, and wish Professor Rose a sincere thanks and fond farewell, we retreated to a fantastic dinner at a local Eritrean restaurant, which provided some evidence of our hotel brochure's emphatic claim that indeed "there's more to Frankfurt than banks!"