Economist Proposed as First Woman on Bank of Mexico Board

By Juan MontesFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto has proposed Irene Espinosa, an economist and senior finance ministry official, to fill the vacant position on the Bank of Mexico's board of governors, according to a notice sent to Mexico's Congress on Thursday.

If confirmed by the Senate as a deputy governor, as is expected in the coming weeks, Ms. Espinosa would become the first woman to serve on the central bank's five-member board, which functions as the Bank of Mexico's interest-rate-setting committee.

Continue Reading Below

Ms. Espinosa couldn't immediately be reached to comment.

Analysts said the appointment honors a respected economist who has served the last nine years as the treasurer at the finance ministry. The decision also highlights Mr. Peña Nieto's efforts to increase the visibility of women in the country's top economic positions, the analysts said.

"She will inject a lot of freshness into the Bank of Mexico," said Jonathan Heath, an independent economist. "She is not an expert in monetary policy but has a solid economic education and is very smart."

Ms. Espinosa would fill the deputy governor position vacated by Alejandro Díaz de León when he was promoted to governor of the central bank. His predecessor, Agustin Carstens, stepped down to lead the Bank for International Settlements, which is often called the central bank of central banks.

Ms. Espinosa would join the central bank at a difficult time. Mexico's inflation is at 6.8% -- its highest level in 17 years and more than twice the central bank's 3% target -- the economy is slowing down and the peso remains volatile given uncertainty over the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Most economists expect the central bank to increase its overnight interest rate target by a quarter percentage point to 7.5% at its February meeting, which would be its second consecutive rate increase, in an effort to keep inflation expectations under control.

Ms. Espinosa studied economics at the Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, a private university that has produced many top Mexican economic officials. She was a professor of economics there in the late 1990s.

The sister of a former foreign relations minister, Ms. Espinosa worked at the Inter-American Development Bank before being appointed in 2009 as treasurer at the finance ministry by former President Felipe Calderón. There she earned a reputation as a hardworking, discreet public servant.

Write to Juan Montes at juan.montes@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 23:46 ET (04:46 GMT)