Working Paper Research




Jacques van Ypersele de Strihou is a discrete person but well-known in Belgian and international

political and economic circles. After an outstanding academic career at the Universities of Namur,

Leuven and Louvain and then at Yale in the United States where he gained a PhD, he started out

his professional life as an official at the International Monetary Fund. He then returned to Belgium

where he held important posts in various Finance Ministers’ cabinets. He played a major role in

European and international monetary negotiations, notably in his capacity as President of the

European Monetary Committee when the European Monetary System was being set up. Later, as

head of Prime Minister Wilfried Martens’ cabinet, he was one of the architects of the 1982

devaluation of the Belgian franc. Discretion and modesty prevented Jacques van Ypersele from

talking about himself much. He took some convincing before agreeing to be interviewed. The end

result was these three interviews which took place at his home between June and October 2015

which he re-read the following summer. We were also given access to his private archives, the

source of the documents published in the Annex.

JEL classification: A11, B22, E60, F50, N74.

Keywords: Jacques van Ypersele, economic crisis of the 1970s, European Monetary System,

Belgian devaluation of 1982.


Ivo Maes is Senior Advisor at the Economics and Research Department of the National Bank of

Belgium and a Professor, Robert Triffin Chair, at the Université Catholique de Louvain, as

well as at ICHEC Brussels Management School – e-mail:

Sabine Péters is a Professor at ICHEC Brussels Management School

– e-mail:


The authors would like to thank all those who contributed to this project, especially Jacques van

Ypersele and his wife for their cordial welcome and cooperation.

The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views

of the National Bank of Belgium or any other institution to which the authors are affiliated. All

remaining errors are our own.


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