Economist Lamfalussy helped lay groundwork for creation of the European Central Bank

FRANKFURT – Belgian economist Alexandre Lamfalussy, who headed the institution that became the European Central Bank and was credited as one of the founders of the shared euro currency, has died at age 86.

The ECB said in a statement Monday that “core building stones” of the shared currency were put in place under Lamfalussy’s stewardship. It called him “one of the euro’s founding fathers.”

Lamfalussy headed the Frankfurt-based European Monetary Institute from 1994-97. The institute laid the groundwork for the creation of a supra-national central bank to manage the new currency.

The institute became the European Central Bank in July 1998, under its first president, Wim Duisenberg. The euro was introduced on Jan. 1, 1999, with 11 member countries. It now has 19, after Lithuania joined in January. Member countries have struggled recently to overcome excessive debt and poor growth.

As head of the EMI, Lamfalussy helped to define the bank’s monetary policy strategy and to devise the technical means to implement it across multiple countries. The ECB sets interest rates for the countries that use the euro currency.

Lamfalussy was born in Hungary in 1929 and studied economics at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium and at Oxford University’s Nuffield College, according to a biography on the website of the Catholic University of Louvain. He served as general manager of the Bank for International Settlements, an important forum for the world’s central banks, in Basel from 1985 to 1993.

Details on when Lamfalussy died and the cause of death were not provided in the ECB statement.