Head of Russian central bank named European Banker of the Year

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Elvira Nabiullina, the head of Russia’s central bank, has been named the best Central Bank Governor in Europe in 2016 by the international financial magazine, The Banker.

The influential publication praised her for having “helped steer the country through the difficulties,” with Russia “set to return to economic growth in 2017.”

“Having started 2016 with consumer price inflation of 12.9% – highs not seen since 2008 – Ms Nabiullina highlighted the need to lower inflation to improve economic growth in Russia,” the outlet writes in an article dedicated to the award.

Established in 1926, The Banker is considered one of the leading international finance magazines, read in almost 180 countries.

“Ms Nabiullina’s efforts saw the rate drop below 6% by the end of 2016,” the magazine writes. This, as inflation in Russia “had never fallen under 6,1 percent”, according to the publication, citing figures by the International Monetary Fund going back to 1992.

Nabiullina said she viewed the past year as a kind of turning point with regard to inflation. “Importantly, in 2016 there was a turning point in the sentiment of the population and professionals regarding inflation expectations,” she is quoted as saying by the outlet.

“At the beginning of 2016, inflation expectations of market participants were well above our target, but now they have reduced to close to our [end-2017] 4% inflation target, at between 4.5% and 4.7%.”

In December last year, the chief of the IMF, Christine Lagarde lauded Nabiullina for doing “a fantastic job” while tackling the financial problems in Russia, and inflation in particular.

Elvira Nabiullina is a Tatar-born Russian economist. She was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s economic adviser between May 2012 to June 2013 after serving as minister of economic development and trade from September 2007 to May 2012.

As of 2014, she is listed as the 72nd most powerful woman in the world by Forbes.

Between 1991 and 1994 Nabiullina worked at the USSR Science and Industry Union and its successor, the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. In 1994 she moved to the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade, where she rose to the level of deputy minister by 1997; she left the ministry in 1998.

She spent the next two years with Sberbank as its chief executive and with former Economic Development and Trade Minister German Gref’s non-governmental think tank, the Center for Strategic Development, before returning to the Ministry for Economic Development and Trade as first deputy in 2000.

Between 2003 and her September 2007 appointment as minister, she chaired the Center for Strategic Development as well as an advisory committee preparing for Russia’s 2006 presidency of the G8 group of nations.

Russian President Putin appointed Nabiullina to the post of minister of economic development and trade on 24 September 2007, replacing Gref.

She found working with then-deputy premier and finance minister Alexei Kudrin “difficult but always interesting” and remained in that position until 21 May 2012.

In 2012 she was one of six senior government figures to accompany Putin back to the Kremlin administration after Putin was elected president of Russia for a third term.

In 2013 Nabiullina was appointed head of the Central Bank of Russia, becoming the second woman after Tatiana Paramonova to hold that position, and thus the first Russian woman in the G8.

In May 2014 she was named one of the world’s most powerful women by Forbes, which noted that she “has been given the difficult task of managing the ruble exchange rate during Ukraine’s political crisis and facilitating growth for an economy trying to avoid a recession”.

In an effort to stop the ruble’s slide, the Central Bank of Russia, under her leadership, hiked interest rates, free-floated the exchange rate, and kept a cap on inflation, thus stabilizing the financial system and boosting foreign-investor confidence.

Euromoney magazine named her their 2015 Central Bank Governor of the Year