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Interview with Julien Pinter: Teaching bright minds who can dream big


Julien Pinter is our new Post-Doctoral Fellow who is working on topics in central banking and macroeconomics with Professors Roman Horvath and Evzen Kocenda. At the moment, he is at a study visit at Harvard University.

Julien has graduated from Paris I Sorbonne, and part of his studies conducted at the University Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute in the Netherlands. He has both academic experience as well as professional experience from Risk Analysis Division at the European Central Bank, and commented for French media, including Le Monde. Thanks to generous support of Charles University, he is going to be with us at least for two years, 2019 and 2020. 

Julien, how did you learn about the Institute of Economics before joining us?
I came across many interesting research papers from researchers of Charles University before joining the Department. I read many papers from Professor Horvath in the past for example, very much in link with my research. I also met IES alumni when I was at the ECB, who told me that they had both a really nice time and a really demanding formation here at the IES.
You are currently teaching Intermediate Macroeconomics. Can you see any differences between Czech and French students? What are your first impressions from the class?
Many second-year students seem to me really focused and matured here, what strikes me. I feel a sane atmosphere during the lectures and the seminars, most people come to learn. This is very important. That makes me enjoy the teaching too, it’s all positive. I can see many bright minds, who, if they don’t fall in the trap of getting quickly satisfied enough with the knowledge they have now, can dream big.
Your job talk at Charles University was about the exit of the Swiss National Bank from a currency peg in 2015. The topic has raised wide attention, and even a Czech Bank board member attended your talk. Briefly speaking, what is the main idea and result of this project?
The decision of the Swiss National Bank to end its peg with the euro in 2015 (the “Frankenshock” as media call it) surprised most economists, if not all. With my co-author Marc we study the relevance of one key argument that several observers advanced to explain the real reasons behind this puzzling move: the fear of financial losses. We build a simple framework to explain how the fear of losses can explain the decision of a central bank to prematurely end a peg policy. We then perform numerical analysis to see whether the Swiss National bank could arguably have expected a risk of too important losses. Overall our results suggest that this “fear of losses argument” was indeed plausible: there was clearly a risk of too important financial losses for the SNB if it had broken its peg just few months after it effectively did. The research has also broader implications for exchange rate peg policies in general, shedding light on their limits in nowadays’ world.
What are your research plans for the following two years?
I have many ideas which I would like to develop. I’m working with 2 co-authors from France on what is I believe a very promising topic, we are the first to look at the media sentiment related to monetary policy and study its relevance. I have the chance to have bright friends working in banks, interactions with them convinced me of the relevance of such a topic. I would like to continue digging on it. I also would like to continue with questions related to capital flows and central bank foreign exchange interventions. I should be able to work with Charles University colleagues here, some know methods I don’t know yet while I have fresh views on several post-crisis topics, I’m convinced this can create mutually beneficial interactions, what my post-doc here is for.
You are a co-funder and contributor at a French think-tank called Bsi Economics. What is the main activity of the think tank and what is your current involvement therein?
BSi Economics is a French think-tank aimed at providing in-depth economic analysis on news-related topics. We have about 40 French economists, professionals and academics, who are strong experts in their area. The structure helps improve the public debate on sometimes complex economic issues.
We publish analysis every week on our website, we also occasionally organize conferences, and share our views with many media (Le Monde, Les Echos…). Right now I’m mostly reviewing articles in my area before they can get published, writing articles, and participating to internal debates. I’m part of the advisory board of BSi. I’m officially not in the core managing team anymore (which needed new faces) but I have close ties with them and we exchange regularly, they are doing a really good job.
On your webpage, you indicate your willingness to work in Latin America after finishing your research in the Czech Republic. What is your main reason? Is this because of the challenges for monetary policy which many of those countries have faced in the past?
It’s mostly personal reasons. It is important for me to have a job in which I thrive and where I am able to learn more, but it is also important for me to have people around me from which I can learn, not especially workwise related. I’ve always been attracted by this part of the globe, I feel I can learn a lot from the culture of some countries there. As I could learn through other job experiences too.
On your CV, it is interesting you were playing handball for 12 years, and became a vice-champion of the “Challenge of France” in 2005. Are you still playing handball and did you have a chance to practice in Prague?
Unfortunately no! I have stopped Handball after moving to Brussels. I am more into squash and Latin-dances now, for which Prague is a good place besides.

Autor - Mgr. Ema C. Stašová


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