Sinan al-Shabibi: CENTRAL BANK OF IRAQ


  • Share
  • Read Later

Central bankers are a risk-averse tribe. But Sinan al-Shabibi risks his life every time he drives to his office in downtown Baghdad. Government officials are killed or kidnapped every day by insurgents who see them as traitors for cooperating with the American "occupiers." "If I told you that sort of thing doesn't worry me, I would not be telling the truth," says al-Shabibi, 63. "[The insurgents] make my job more, shall we say, interesting?" Since he took over as central-bank governor a year ago, al-Shabibi, a former economist at the Geneva-based U.N. Conference on Trade and Development, has given the bank's employees a crash course in 21st century finance. He has made the bank switch from typewriters and calculators to computers, introduced it to newfangled financial instruments like currency auctions and replaced the country's bank notes so that Iraqis no longer have to carry Saddam Hussein's mug in their wallet. Not bad for a man who had never worked at a central bank. And despite the ongoing war, al-Shabibi has held the Iraqi currency, the dinar, firm at about 1,450 to the U.S. dollar. "We have all kinds of instability here already," al-Shabibi says. "We can't afford to add economic instability to the mix." --By Aparisim Ghosh/Baghdad