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Eye on Alumni Interview: Manuel Muñoz '13

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This Macro alum with a strong vocation for public service worked in the ECB's Monetary Policy Research Division before taking his current position as head of service at the Spanish Treasury.

Could you describe your career path since graduating from the BGSE?

I have worked at the ECB Monetary Policy Research Division. While there, I assisted various researchers in several monetary policy, finance and econometrics-related projects. I also had the opportunity to attend meetings of the ECB forecast task force, the expert group in charge of the ECB staff macroeconomic projections for euro area inflation and activity that are presented at the Governing Council every quarter.

Then I moved to the Ministry of Economy in Spain to work at the Financial Policy and Regulation Division. The department designs and develops the bulk of the Spanish financial system regulation. At the moment I am involved in several initiatives within the Capital Markets Union Action Plan launched by the European Commission a couple of months ago such as private placements, securitization or covered bonds. In my view, assets securitization and covered bond markets are of a great importance: in most of the cases, the underlying assets in these transactions are mortgages. Given the importance of the real estate sector in the Spanish economy it is not surprising that Spain is one of the main issuers in Europe. At the same time I am working in some other interesting topics within the Banking Union project such as the European Deposit Insurance Scheme and the Single Resolution Mechanism as well as in some national level initiatives.

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It sounds like you never get bored. What would be a typical day working in the Financial Policy and Regulation Division?

At this moment in time, I am working on our reply to the public consultation on covered bonds recently launched by the European Commission and will very soon move to the Commission proposal to establish a European Deposit Insurance Scheme. All of us are regularly working on several topics at the same time and new projects are constantly arising.

We propose new legislation and amendments to existing legislation as a result of the different financial reforms the department has been designing over time (including the national financial reform passed in the aftermath of the recent financial crisis) and due to the various finance related Directives and Regulations passed at the European level. To legislate at the European level, we actively participate in the expert groups of the Council of the EU (Brussels) to discuss and reach an agreement with the rest of the member states on the initiatives launched by the Commission. Once a Regulation or a Directive has been passed by the Council and the Parliament through the co-decision process, we recommend amendments to national legislation or transpose the relevant Directive, as appropriate.

One of the most exciting things of this job is that we are constantly interacting with a wide range of institutions including rating agencies, supervisors, credit institutions, consultancy firms, ministries from other countries and European institutions, to mention just a few. Over the last few weeks we have had a number of meetings on covered bonds and securitization in our department. Communication with the different participants of the industry is crucial to identify priorities, detect conflicts of interest and uncover hidden problems. In my view, the biggest challenge of the regulator is to design a set of measures such that incentives of the different parties are aligned and efficiency of the market is enhanced.

How did you find out about this position? What was the selection process like?

I started working at the Ministry of Economy after becoming a State Economist in Spain. I found about this position by talking to my professors during my undergraduate studies. To summarize, this highly competitive selection process consists of five blocks of qualifying exams which test the candidate on a wide range of topics in economics, finance, trade and international relations as well as on at least two foreign languages. There are both written and oral exams.

How did the master's program help to prepare you for this step in your career?

The Macro program at the Barcelona GSE was very helpful for me to have a deeper understanding of many models that I had to study to become State Economist to begin with. It has helped me to develop professionally in some of my favorite fields, namely monetary and financial policy.

In the case of financial policy, which is what I am currently doing, the master's has prepared me both directly and indirectly: directly, through courses such as Financial Economics, Empirical Finance, Banking and Financial Fragility, and Regulation in Financial Markets; and indirectly, by teaching me how to shape the right mindset in order to successfully approach economic and financial problems.

Is this more or less what you pictured yourself doing after graduation?

Yes, I decided that I would focus my career path on economic and financial policy when I was around 19 years old. I have a strong vocation for public service.

Would you recommend this career path to current students?

If you like policymaking and international experiences this is definitely a great career path to follow. For instance, in the case of Spain there are always Spanish State Economists working in a variety of national and international policy institutions which include, among others, several ministries, the Bank of Spain, the IMF, the World Bank, the different regional development banks, the European Commission and the EIB. At the same time there is a great degree of flexibility and labor mobility in this sector thanks to the strong theoretical and practical background you acquire while preparing the exams. Today I am working in a great team of financial regulators but tomorrow I might decide, for instance, to move to the macroeconomic analysis division to apply many of the tools and techniques that I learnt during the master program or I might decide to go to work abroad. Moreover, the labor mobility possibilities this permanent position provides you with are not restricted to the public sector. A number of Spanish State Economists are working at the private sector. The door to the public sector remains open for them.

There are ever more Barcelona GSE students and alumni who are aware of the benefits of this career path. I devote some of my time to teaching candidates who are preparing these exams at the CECO (Centro de Estudios Económicos y Comerciales). At the moment two of my students are BGSE alumni!

What do you miss most about the Barcelona GSE?

Exactly the same that I miss about my experience at the ECB. In both places I had the pleasure to meet many great people from all over the world from whom I have learnt so many things not only at an academic-professional level but also at a personal-human level. This fact makes me believe that I will probably look for further international experiences in the future.

Is there anything else you'd like to share about your work or about life after grad school? What hints or advice would you give to current BGSE students who want to follow a career path like yours?

I think that motivation is the most important part. Work with intensity for a better world and enjoy your time with intensity to be happy and to make others happy. That is what has worked for me, what I feel identified with and probably the best piece of advice that I can give.

Connect with Manuel on LinkedIn


Interview conducted in January 2016. Which alumni should we interview next? Suggest a classmate via email


Related information:

Master's Program in Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets

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