Ramsey Bradke ’14 – Today was by far the most informative and culturally exciting day I’ve had on this trip so far. Although I woke up not feeling well, the morning and afternoon were great experiences that gave me great perspective from a lot of the topics we covered in class.
This morning we headed to the European Central Bank, the youngest central bank in the world. Although the European Central Bank is a lot like the Federal Reserve in some respects, it hasn’t made a lot of the same monetary policy moves that the Fed has because of its relative youth. We got the opportunity to sit in the same room that the General Council of the Euro Central Bank does and were able to listen to the Senior Press s Secretary of the Central Bank from Poland.
We talked primarily about convergence criteria to be able to join the Euro Area. In order to meet these criteria, member states had to establish price stability, interest rate convergence, exchange rate stability, and public finance discipline. One of the more interesting topics we talked about was why a central bank would choose to aim for an inflation rate of 2% instead of a perfect rate of 0%. His conclusion was that it gives countries and central bankers the option of changing interest rates; at an inflation rate of 0% some countries may run the risk of negative interest rates.
After we left the central bank we were free till our 5 pm train departure to Brussels to roam the city. Jake Schild and I decided to head off and pick a restaurant we thought would diversify our pallet. We found a great little café called Conrads where we were able to sit outside and eat. We ended up sitting there for at least 90 minutes, if not more, just eating and talking about a range of things from school, career plans, economics, and girls. This type of experience was something I know I’d never see or do in America. We were able to sit with other people doing the same thing as us and not worry about the time or our other obligations. It was nice and relaxing to just have good friendly conversation.
On our way back to the town center we noticed there was a huge rally of some sort in the square so we walked over to the large crowd to try to figure out what was going on. At first we couldn’t figure what was happening outside the fact that there were probably 600 people blowing whistles with their children listening to a speaker. When we asked the native Germans what they were doing they told us they were holding a rally because the German government was trying to cuts costs for education by increasing the number of children per classroom. It was really fun to get to see this “protest”, especially since I would support what they were doing as well.
Currently I’m sitting on a high-speed train en route to Brussels. It’s pretty cool how much the Europeans take pride in their train transportation; it seems like a great mode of transportation that is environmentally friendly. I look forward to the rest of our trip and I sincerely thank the Rogge Fund for supporting our time in Belgium and Germany.