Home News What drives Axel Weber’s competitors for the ECB’s top

What drives Axel Weber’s competitors for the ECB’s top


ROM. It is said that the Governor was not in the house, he had to change his travel plans, it was not clear when he was still Rome return. With the press he would not speak anyway. It is 17 clock on that day, waving than a stately building in Via Nazionale, the guards a stone-gray sedan with dark windows service through the security barrier. It is said Mario Draghi was very reserved, he spoke little. But who has seen him once in small circles, was a confident man just knows how to sell.

Draghi, it casts its environment’ve already achieved so much. Chief of Italy’s central bank, the task he fulfilled, he would no longer be. But people who know him say better, he would, absolutely. Mario Draghi, it is usual to do things his way, silent like a phantom. And since a few days it looks like it could be a habit is open the way to one of the most important offices to grant the financial world.

In a few months, Jean-Claude Trichet as president of the European Central Bank, ECB stop. There are two candidates. A German, an Italian. Axel Weber, president of the Bundesbank. And Mario Draghi, head of the Banca d’Italia, the central bank of Italy.

The battle seemed already decided even before it really started. Draghi was a very good professional, certainly. That said, many who experience it frequently. Who will be the ECB president is merely not a matter of skill, but one of the policy. In the EU, this means that it is determined, above all, the Germans and the French. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, it was said already, are in agreement. Weber.

But suddenly things appear in a different light. Weber makes himself unpopular, which have shown the past few days, the mood turns. In the ECB, in the political circles in Paris, in Berlin. The big game begins again. And right now it looks as if it is played according to Draghi’s rules. He can do what he does best: observe, do behind closed doors await his work at the right moment to come out of hiding and take the decisive thrust.

One would like to learn from Draghi himself what he wants to do. But for official interviews, he is not available. The rare exceptions, he has made in many years as a banker can be counted on two hands. There are increasing but the evidence that he is waiting for his chance. There are rumors. There are signs.

Rome, October 2010. In an office near the Vatican, a man fumbles with piercing blue eyes on his desk for an old class photo. "Look at that," says Vincenzo Arcenaccio. Mario Draghi, young, in a gray suit. Ten years she went to school together. Arcenaccio today has its own IT company. He sees hardly Draghi, but when he finds out that the old fellow has not changed. The same side parting, the same earnestness, the same "Olympian calm" that he has not even filed earlier in basketball. "This coolness may appear today acquired or learned," says Arcenaccio. "But I assure you: it was already so when he was little."

Draghi has come so far. is an international body to recognize the shortcomings of the world financial system, advising the governments of major economies and prevent potential crises: He is 63 years old, four and a half years since the Italian central bank chief, he leads the Financial Stability Board, FSB. Draghi is greatly appreciated, experts, leaders and colleagues are impressed.

There now is a rumor, Draghi occupied an agency that he was planning a strategy that should bring him into the executive chair of the ECB. The press agent of the Banca d’Italia denied. It is also rumored, Trichet, the incumbent, tend to prefer the Draghi. Trichet denies the press agent.

The Italian government is still covered. Draghi stays in the background. The only question is how long he still can. Because there are people with a good name and influence to keep his place, the first application speeches. "I would have liked to see some time at the head of the International Monetary Fund. Maybe we do it now with the ECB," said Giuliano Amato, former Italian prime minister. "I would like to see him as president of the ECB," said Robert Solow, Nobel Laureate in Economics. Solow was in the mid 70s Draghi professor at Harvard, his mentor. "He has the best contacts, he comes close to all important people, more even than Trichet," said a German who is sitting close to the controls.

You can perform many such conversations in the corridors of power, in banks, in Italy, France or Germany. They are similar. It is noticeable that many admire, like noiseless Draghi pursues his plans, apparently normal, cool. It is noticeable that there is no one who is an error, can not remember a weakness. And it is, moreover, that there is hardly anyone out there who claims to know Mario Draghi really. It is said that he loves contemporary art and place great value on the opinion of his wife, also in financial matters. He put it no receptions and social events. He was one of those who were mostly young.

A brilliant politician money, looking for political feasibility, a moderator, who adheres to the practice of central bankers, wary. A man who has the ability to understand not only books, but also people. Considerable experience in debt management. That’s what you get heard.

That’s what an ECB chief must be able to.

Draghi himself has been strictly avoided saying whether he wants to be president. But no one doubts within the Bank. "He has always had a keen sense of when talking about himself / herself and when he leaves other better," says one long-time companion. And another man who knows him very long, says: "He must do nothing to apply it only needs to continue to do his job as before.." In the circles in which he moves, that is unequivocal.

There were times in the past few months, as would all may fail.

Rome, 15 March 2010. In a palace with travertine, protected by black wrought-iron gates and a security gate sits a diminutive man in a dark brown wooden table that does not seems to end, in a room with silk wallpaper and Wandgobelins, who seems to have no blankets.

Mario Draghi will disappear in the meeting room of his bank. But he can see now needs to come out of cover, or perhaps even everything out. He decided to give an interview to a German newspaper, Handelsblatt. One thing has become publicly take a risk, he must be under control.

Greece threatens to bankrupt the government, politicians fear the end of the common currency, that great political idea. And in some newsrooms have remembered editors of Draghi’s past. The fact that he may also he has done his part to Greece’s misery.

Draghi was from January 2002 2005 Vice President and Managing Director of investment bank Goldman Sachs, located in London. The bank is accused of being helped in this exact time of the Greek government to conceal the true extent of complex transactions with their miserable financial situation. They have allegedly accompanied Greece bonds worth 15 billion dollar to the lead. Now the suspicion is in the room knew that Goldman, as Greece’s position was miserable, but denied knowledge of this customer to be able to sell bonds. Draghi, it said in an earlier press release, whether for business with "States and state agencies have been responsible.

Even for a normal banker, the mere suspicion is dangerous. But Draghi is about much more. A banker, who was said he could have risked the future of the euro can not possibly lead the bank whose primary objective is to keep the value of the euro stable.

Draghi said: "I have not made a single deal with governments." He was too busy with other things. In any case, the transactions at issue were made before he came to Goldman Sachs. Greece in later deals the bank he was not involved.

The question of whether he wants to be President of the ECB, it can roll off. He denied not, no he confirmed.

It is quiet again, the headlines disappear. Draghi is flying to Washington, Paris, Frankfurt, to find ways in which financial markets are to some extent to create the line, so that something like the crisis is not repeated as soon as possible. He disappears back into coverage, and waiting, watching.

The spring passes, the summer comes. In Germany, the newspapers, Weber is now the favorite to the office at the head of the ECB. In Italy the newspapers hardly anything. And if so, only what the German newspapers reported. Draghi was a good, a very good candidate. But if Germany wanted a German, then it would a German. It is autumn. Draghi fills his role as chief of the FSB, and prepares the G20 meeting in South Korea. He is rising a candidate whose chances.

It is now on to others.

Rome, mid-October, 2010. It is evening, as in the library of a liberal arts institution at the agreed time, a rangy man with silver hair answer the phone. Giuliano Amato, age 72 years. He knows Draghi for more than 20 years, he knows the business of politics. He is a former Italian prime minister, finance minister, he still is a senator.

"There," said Amato, "no European post which can accept a candidate without the support of their own government. Maybe we will be at the ECB. The ECB is a world in which Draghi is already there." Of course, Amato says, if the Germans wanted to have a German President of the ECB, there will also be a German. The question is only whether Weber can exist as a candidate.

A good question. The policy has the say that has not changed. But otherwise, much has happened since March, when Draghi got into trouble.

A story of Mario Draghi, in these days inevitably a story of Axel Weber. One is quiet, the other loud. It is in this duel, so also about what type should lead central bankers of Europe’s central bank. A financial guard or money politicians. A discreet and loyal. Or one who says what he thinks and does not apparently care about conventions. Draghi would rather someone like Trichet, the incumbent. Weber, like Weber. Right now that is good for Draghi.

On the weekend before last just the top central bankers in Europe Weber has called in a newspaper interview last times to keep the door open. Of course, Trichet used a softer formulation, shut up does not occur in the convoluted language of his circle. Trichet said there was only a monetary union, only an interest rate policy decision and only a president who can speak for the Council. He meant himself. For the discrete world of central bankers that was abundantly clear. In other circumstances, would be something tantamount to high treason. In this case it was a kind of self-defense.

A few days earlier Weber had done what he is doing for some time. Once again he has criticized the ECB’s hard, even in public, it was the next brazen violation of the Code of central bankers: the outside is spoken with one voice, all stand behind the decisions taken jointly. Something his colleagues take in the Governing Council, the supreme body of the Bank, foul Weber. It’s not about what Weber says. Some council colleagues to see similar critical that they buy nearly worthless bonds from countries such as Greece. They also believe that this is a tremendous, not to calculating risk. What it repels, the shape, the open attacks.

Trichet has thus spoken, what they think the bank towers in many of Europe. And there’s a small thing. It shows how quickly the moment arise opinions, rumors.

Trichet’s interview was published in an Italian newspaper. And since Trichet is also on that weekend at a conference in Rimini, he praises Draghi to the skies. He says the Italian financial sector was in crisis "demonstrated very resistant and I I congratulate especially the Banca d’Italia".

It can be interpreted as a coincidence. But even so, that the acting chief now holds one of two candidates for his successor more appropriate. Trichet prefers the first version, the second Italian newspapers. say in the ECB and its Council in those days some, that word is something, Weber appeared to have lacked the maturity. It shows itself more and more that Draghi was the more balanced candidate.

Paris, Monday, the 11th October 2010. Draghi has been agreed with French President Nicolas Sarkozy at the Élysée Plast. An Italian newspaper has reported at this meeting stand also Trichet’s succession on the agenda. And in late November, the German candidate would imagine in the residence of German Ambassador in Paris to high-ranking representatives of French politics, finance and industry.

Sarkozy can spread his office, the conversation served to prepare for the G20 summit. In November meeting in Seoul, the leaders of the 20 major industrial and emerging countries. The race for the top job of the ECB, which also allows Sarkozy announced, have not even begun, in his view. In Rome, Draghi’s press office stressed so penetrating, that only matters were discussed relating to the G20 summit that we must be wary.

Of France and Germany, much depends. The great haggling, bluffing and tactics is long. The French can play poker, they are in no hurry. Maybe they help Draghi into office, perhaps Weber, perhaps a third candidate, no one knows yet. Someone who is easier to maintain than Weber. Someone who does not like Draghi has worked for an investment bank, which is one of the contributing factors to the financial crisis.

People from the Elysee Palace are currently very buttoned up, if you talk on the subject. From individual interviews, however, to hear that the dissatisfaction with Weber’s blustering unilateralism grows well here. "Weber is currently doing his best not to be President of the ECB," says someone who has very good insight into the French government.

Of the Germans for some time to hear any more. The election campaign for Weber stage appears set. His relationship with the Federal Chancellor has suffered. Even a few weeks ago Angela Merkel told a small group, Weber had done with his criticism of the monetary policy any favors. Your not. For if Merkel will make a German head of the ECB, it needs Sarkozy. There are currently only a German who is in serious question Weber.

It amounts to a severe test of strength between Merkel and Sarkozy. Merkel has just let him by surprise, as it was to punish sinners €. Confidence in the Euro fades, Merkel has to do something. Weber is considered as the guardian of the euro, the stability and as one who is for it also to solve conflicts with the policy. But his behavior has led to the French, Merkel will have to make more concessions than it did a few months. If she still wants to enforce Weber.

Only two weeks after the meeting, a few days after the agreement of the Stability Pact, Sarkozy starts to drive up the price. He brings Dominique Strauss-Kahn into the game, the head of the International Monetary Fund. He is thus two sides under pressure. Strauss-Kahn, as the Sarkozy will replace as president. If it looks as if he would accept any office, which is good for Sarkozy.

And Merkel, so Weber.

It is said Mario Draghi will never forget where he came from.

Istituto Massimo is a private Jesuit school, situated on a hill of Rome, in the quarter Eur It remains one of the most prestigious schools in the city. Here expressed Ferrari president Luca Cordero Montezemolo, bank presidents, chief of police to school. Many students said, the current rector Padre Francesco Tata are of course already come from good families to the school. But a little probably the Jesuit education approach had contributed to their success. "We want to raise to reflect, to develop a critical spirit, and so far it is to be free to seek the truth," said the Padre.

Draghi’s parents died when he was young. The Padres brought their students discipline and humility. The Ascetic Draghi has remained. Anyone who has watched him in recent weeks could see a man who is full of many journeys, but exudes a great inner peace. Convinced of his task confidently, calmly. Ready to crown a remarkable career.

It is said that on the day on which Mario Draghi as governor of the Banca d ‘Italia was appointed, he visited his former teacher: has required Padre Rozzi, the Draghi and his friends a lot. But he was also a father. Someone who knew a lot about life.