Juan José Echavarría today became the new general manager of the central bank of Colombia, replacing José Darío Uribe who held the position for 12 years. In the top role at the Banco de la República, the University of Oxford-educated Echavarría plans to oversee an economic policy that will focus on stabilizing the value of the Colombian peso, economic output, and employment.
“It is a great honor as an economist to assume this important position in an entity that, for the seventh consecutive year, has been recognized as the most trusted institution in the country,” said Echavarría.
Juan José Echavarría takes the helm at time of change for the central bank. To combat inflation, the seven-member committee voted to raise Colombia’s benchmark interest rate for 11 consecutive months from September 2015 through July of last year.
Then, after holding the rate at 7.75% for four months and seeing inflation begin to fall, the Banco de la República voted to drop the rate by 25 basis points in December down to 7.5%. The vote was divisive with the majority coming as the result of a four-to-three vote in favor of the rate cut that was a departure during the final year of leadership by José Darío Uribe, whose policy focused on reducing inflation back down to the central bank’s target range.
Colombia’s inflation rate hit a 16-year high of 8.97% in July before coming back down to 5.96% in November. The central bank’s target range is between 2% to 4%.
In addition to getting his Ph.D in economics at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, Echavarría has received a master’s degree in economics from Boston University in the United States and an engineering degree from the School of Mines in Medellín.
While discussing his new position, Echavarría also noted his devotion to the central bank’s role of promoting and preserving culture in the nation, something is does through policy and its various museums throughout Colombia. “I hope to continue contributing, as my predecessors did, in the construction of national history and continue to work for the well-being and heritage of Colombians,” said Echavarría.