This is my first year as Director of the Joint Vienna Institute (JVI)—but 2017 is the 25th year of operation for the JVI. A quarter century after the transition to market-based economies began, the JVI remains a key pillar of the capacity building efforts of central banks, ministries and agencies of the countries in this region, where so much has been accomplished that one could be forgiven for losing track of where we began.
In 1992, there was concern that the newly independent countries of the former Soviet Union would collapse in a disorderly fashion. Institutions had to be fundamentally reoriented, if not created from scratch, and macroeconomic conditions were extremely volatile. Many believed the transition, especially changing mindsets, would take more than a generation. In this view, the international community could do little but wait until demography slowly played itself out.
To their credit, the founders of the JVI did not wait. Shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Austria, the IMF, and four other international organizations teamed up to found a new institute dedicated to helping officials acquire the skills needed to bring their countries successfully through the trauma of transition. And it was a success. Indeed, in a number of cases, countries in the JVI region were also able to accomplish the difficult task of complying with the Aquis Communautaire, the rules and regulations associated with joining the European Union. Over the past 24 years of operation, the JVI has trained 40,000 officials, who have collectively attended 1,500 courses. At present, 19 sitting governors of central banks or government ministers, and one president, count among the JVI’s alumni.
As the transition process wound down, the JVI’s stakeholders recognized that something special had been created in Vienna—an institution targeting economic capacity building in a diverse region stretching from Prague to Dushanbe. A renewed mandate was adopted in 2002, centered on cost-effective learning by officials from countries at all levels of development throughout Eastern and Southeastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. I am privileged to be entrusted with taking the JVI into its second quarter century as a dynamic and sustainable anchor of the capacity building efforts of our member institutions.
How does the JVI training program look for 2017? Most of the courses will again be offered by the IMF, which has recently revamped its training curriculum for government officials. Core courses, like financial programming, are increasingly being complemented by new offerings which reflect some of the ongoing rethinking of macroeconomics. Macro-financial surveillance and macroprudential policies were nowhere to be seen when the JVI set up shop in the 1990s. Now they, and practical courses on control of money laundering, managing capital flows, and DSGE modeling, are at the heart of IMF training.
Courses taught by the Austrian Authorities, often in cooperation with European partners, cover advanced banking system stress testing techniques and financial literacy, as well as the development of sound fiscal institutions, improving the frameworks for foreign direct investment, and implementing successful public-private partnerships. Several courses also focus on the challenges of regional integration, including EU accession.
The JVI will once again offer its flagship course on Applied Economic Policy for younger economists, while the JVI will join forces with its partners to deliver a highly popular course on Structural Reforms. We will again cooperate with the Banque de France’s International Banking and Finance Institute, the Bank of England’s Centre for Central Banking Studies, and the Deutsche Bundesbank’s Centre for Technical Central Bank Cooperation on topics related to monetary policy and financial stability.
Face-to-face training will remain our central focus, but online learning, available at www.jvi.org and through the IMF’s Smart Catalog, is increasingly complementing it, strengthening the usefulness of in-person offerings and in some cases providing a baseline from which more advanced courses can jump off. As a result, completing related online courses could boost a participant’s chances of being selected for face-to-face training.
Our online schedule has the most up-to-date course offerings and application deadlines, which in many cases are set three to four months before a course begins. As in the past, additional offerings may be added throughout 2017.
Allow me on behalf of the whole JVI community to thank Austria and the IMF, as well as to our Contributing Members and other donors, notably the central banks of the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Malta, for their generous financial and intellectual support. Finally, on a personal note, I look forward to welcoming many officials and participants to the JVI, and to discussing with you how the JVI can contribute to addressing the many issues faced by the region.
Director, Joint Vienna Institute