Louka Katseli on her journey from EGC to the Greek cabinet and the international development community

The financial crisis erupted in Greece in 2009. At that time, his name was associated with a number of regulatory reforms aimed at promoting investment and social entrepreneurship, as well as labor market reforms aimed at increase flexibility through the protection of collective agreements. In 2010, she was the architect of the “Katseli law”: the first Greek law on personal insolvency, which protects main residences and allows, via court decisions, to amortize and reschedule mortgage debts. The Katseli law restored the purchasing power of vulnerable debtors, gave creditors the means to recover part of their loans and protect their principal residence, and alleviated the Greek economy. “Promoting progressive reforms at a time of severe austerity was a major challenge,” Katseli said. “I became wiser, more resilient and committed to the process.”

Katseli as Minister of Economy of the Greek government, opening trade and tourism relations with China in 2010.

Katseli’s academic background has provided her with valuable knowledge and insights into policy making. She traces her sense of the politics of debt restructuring to heated discussions at the EGC with Diaz-Alejandro, who had broached the subject in the 1970s. Athens allowed her to vote according to her conscience in Parliament, unhindered by the careerist motivations that guided other politicians. It refused to support the programs put forward by Greece’s creditors and accepted by its government, involving the dismantling of collective agreements; in exchange for her vote in principle, she was removed from the PASOK parliamentary group. In 2012, Katseli again encountered crisis when she opposed the confiscation of Greek assets in the event of non-payment of a tranche of Greece’s second bailout with the Troika: the decision-making group formed by the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. . She was withdrawn from the PASOK parliamentary group a second time. Together with seven former PASOK members of parliament, she then founded and led a new party, the Social Pact, which contested the May 2012 elections.

“My time at EGC was formative because I was surrounded by people who not only had strong theoretical foundations, but also a wealth of practical experience and political insight.” – Louka Katseli

In 2015, Katseli became President of the National Bank of Greece and President of the Association of Hellenic Banks: the first women to hold these positions. In the months that followed, Katseli had to deal with a new upheaval which she had to manage with the imposition of capital controls which led to a general restructuring of banking procedures and the recapitalization of all banks. Greek.

Costas Meghir, Douglas A Warner III Professor of Economics at Yale and affiliated with the EGC, said: “Louka Katseli was a pioneer for women in politics and, with a small group of eminent women, helped to open the doors to a more inclusive political scene in Greece, which continues to be heavily male-dominated.”

Katseli with a group of leaders on the steps of a government building in Africa
Katseli in 2017 visiting Harare, Zimbabwe as a board member of the African Capacity Building Foundation.

Seeking social betterment

Today, Katseli brings her experience to the front lines of politics at a wide range of institutions. His recent achievements include co-chairing the Independent Commission for Sustainable Equality alongside former Danish Prime Minister Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, a commission set up by the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats in the European Parliament to create concrete measures that promote sustainable equality and well-being in Europe. She continues to advance capacity building and sustainable development in frontier economies as Vice Chair of the Board of the African Capacity Building Foundation and as a founding partner of Match2Invest, a consultancy firm. consultancy that unlocks investment and promotes sustainability in Greece. Until recently, she was Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of Greece in Cyprus and is now the head of the Bank’s Audit Committee. His love of the performing arts continues in his role as CEO of Music Works Rightsholders’ Cooperative Edem, an organization that defends the rights of Greek music composers and promotes Greek musical creation.

In line with his past work at the EGC, Katseli believes that the top priority of the global development community should be to revamp global governance. “Post-Bretton Woods institutions are unable to effectively manage the global community because they have been intergovernmental. Power has shifted to big business: only 140 corporations control more than 80% of global transactions. A reform of global governance is needed to more effectively regulate dominant actors and mitigate recurring global crises, such as the global financial crisis, the migration and asylum crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.
She noted that national governments are increasingly unable to safeguard human security and promote policies for the well-being of their citizens, and that citizens are in turn losing faith in them. “Global governance reform is urgently needed to safeguard democracy,” she said.

Valerie Chuang is a master’s student in international and development economics at Yale. All photos courtesy of Louka Katseli.

Katseli’s book, tentatively titled “Steering through the storms: A personal account”, is expected to be published in English in 2023. A Greek edition, published in 2020, offered an insider’s perspective on the causes and evolution of the financial crisis and the mistakes of Greek policy and a harsh criticism of the austerity measures imposed by the troika. Katseli draws on his extensive experience to comment on the functioning of European institutions, the interplay between public and private sector interests and the role of political institutions and leaders in crisis management, with a view to drawing policy lessons for the future.

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