Noonan ranks 10th among EU finance ministers

MICHAEL NOONAN has come mid-table in a ranking of EU finance ministers.

Noonan ranks 10th among EU finance ministers

It makes for something of a turnaround in Irish fortunes, because Mr Noonan’s predecessor, the late Brian Lenihan, ranked bottom of the list in 2010 and 2009.

The annual ranking by the Financial Times assesses the finance ministers on three separate criteria.

Mr Noonan was ranked 10th, a significant improvement from the 19th place in which Mr Lenihan found himself for two years.

The FT said the table captured the “drama” of the past 12 months and reflected Mr Noonan’s impact since becoming finance minister in March. “Ireland, one of three eurozone countries subject to an international bailout, came bottom last year but has recovered strongly,” the paper said.

“Michael Noonan, Dublin’s new minister, along with Vitor Gaspar, his Portuguese counterpart, wins plaudits for determination in trying circumstances.”

Topping the ranking this year is Swedish finance minister Anders Borg, whose country’s “outperforming economy has made (him)… the envy of troubled European finance ministers”.

In last place was Greece’s Evangelos Venizelos.

“(He) passed law on bailout deals yet few reforms have been implemented,” the paper notes.

“Lagging tax revenue means deficit target missed.”

The ministers are assessed on the basis of political ability, economic performance and market credibility.

Economic performance and credibility are assessed largely on technical data: The latter, for instance, is judged on bond yields and how they have changed.

Given the condition of Ireland’s economy, Mr Noonan ranks only 18th on economic performance and 12th on credibility.

But on political ability — which is based on the opinions of seven leading economists who assess issues such as ministers’ lucidity and how they fare on the European stage — Mr Noonan ranks third, behind Mr Borg and Germany’s Wolfgang Schauble.

However, the FT stressed that the annual ranking was “inevitably subjective” and “not meant to be taken too seriously”.

“Rating Europe’s fiscal masters makes refereeing a controversial offside in football look easy,” the paper said. “It was harder for those (who) inherited a mess or lacked back-up to attract praise.”

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