Race narrows to five candidates to take over from ‘Super Mario’ at ECB

Mario Draghi steps down as head of the ECB at the end of October and the field of candidates to replace him has narrowed. Here are the leading contenders to take over from “Super Mario”

Race narrows to five candidates to take over from ‘Super Mario’ at ECB

Mario Draghi steps down as head of the ECB at the end of October and the field of candidates to replace him has narrowed. Here are the leading contenders to take over from “Super Mario”

Benoit Coeuré has made a name for himself as the ECB’s main ambassador with financial investors and international institutions. He is the only candidate never to have headed a central bank, having joined the ECB’s executive board after a career at the French treasury.

Mr Coeuré is due to step down in January 2020 and his chances to succeed Mr Draghi may be hampered by ECB rules saying a board member’s term cannot be renewed. Erkki Liikanen is Finland’s former central bank chief.

He is regarded as a seasoned consensus-maker who could bring together cash-rich countries in the eurozone’s north and struggling economies in the south. During a 14-year tenure at Bank of Finland, Mr Liikanen emerged as a policy moderate who largely avoided controversy and toed the ECB’s line. Born in 1950, Mr Liikanen became the youngest ever member of the Finnish parliament when he won a seat aged 21.

He was finance minister from 1987 to 1990, before becoming his country’s first European commissioner in 1995. He is now the oldest among those tippedto succeed Mr Draghi. If elected, Mr Liikanen would be 77 by the time his presidential term runs out.

Olli Rehn is well known in Ireland for involvement in the early days of the bailout nine years ago. A former top EU economic official, Mr Rehn became known for advocating strict fiscal discipline and structural reforms for southern eurozone countries during the 2011-2012 debt crisis. He was appointed as Finland’s central bank governor in 2018 after a decade at the European Commission, and a short stint as his country’s economy minister. Mr Rehn played football professionally in his youth before becoming a member of the Finnish parliament for a centrist party in 1991 and gaining a doctorate in economics from Oxford University five years later.

Francois Villeroy de Galhau is France’s central bank governor. He is seen as a centrist, somewhere between German central bank orthodoxy and the market-oriented approach favoured by Mr Draghi. Since being appointed as the head of the Banque de France in 2015, Mr Villeroy has become an increasingly vocal critic of the ECB’s negative deposit rate, a penalty charge on excess cash that is hurting French and German banks in particular. Mr Villeroy spent over a decade at BNP Paribas after serving as French government adviser under Socialist ministers in the 1990s. He is a German speaker and his family has roots across the border, where his ancestors founded ceramics maker Villeroy and Boch.

Jens Weidmann, head of the Bundesbank, is best known for his criticism of the ECB’s aggressive stimulus policy under Mr Draghi. Born in West Germany in 1968, Mr Weidmann was one of Angela Merkel’s top economic advisers when he was chosen to head the Bundesbank in 2011. He was a lone dissenter on key ECB decisions during Mr Draghi’s tenure, including bond-buying programmes that were later credited with averting a break-up of the euro and the spectre of deflation. Mr Weidmann also opposed providing emergency funding to Greek banks during a liquidity crisis in 2015 and ruffled feathers in Italy by criticising the economic policy of successive Italian governments.

Reuters

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