Rome and Berlin Contest Chief Bank Seat

Thomas Lohnes/AFP/Getty Images

Rome and Berlin Contest Chief Bank Seat

The contest is on for the presidency of the European Central Bank—during the EU’s greatest financial crisis.

It’s an intriguing contest, particularly if you know anything about what lies ahead for Europe. The president’s position at the bank upon which the EU relies for control of its Monetary Union is up for grabs. It could not happen at a more crisis-ridden time for Europe. Competition for the job is ramping up in preparation for a decision on the successful candidate in October. The successful applicant will be favored with new office premises to be ensconced in the huge new European Central Bank (ecb) headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, due for completion by the end of 2011.

What is intriguing about the contest is that it boils down to a two-man tussle. In one corner we have German banker Axel Weber, president of the German Bundesbank. In the other is the governor of Italy’s central bank and head of the Financial Stability Board, Mario Draghi.

Both contenders are members of the ecb’s governing council, the most powerful group of central bankers on the planet, consisting of the presidents of the national banks of the 16 EU member nations that comprise the eurozone.

The nation most overtly active in lobbying for its candidate is—you guessed it—Germany. The main tactic being employed by Germany’s Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is to pressure EU finance ministers into influencing the appointment of Portuguese candidate Vitor Constâncio to the currently vacant ecb vice president’s job. That appointment is set to be announced next week. As EurActiv reports, the reason for Germany’s tactic is that, “For the sake of geographical balance, if the vice president comes from Southern Europe, the ecb president cannot be a southerner too. This would in turn automatically exclude Draghi from the ecb presidency and clear the way for Weber’s appointment” (February 11).

On the other hand, Italy has a strong argument for Draghi’s candidacy due to both his firm-handed governing of Banca d’Italia and chairmanship of the powerful Financial Stability Board (fsb), to which the G-20 nations have signed up as the governor of global finance. Draghi’s position with the fsb has been described as making him “one of the most powerful financial regulators in the world” (FinReg21, July 8, 2009).

While Germany’s hopes for the success of its strategy were boosted following the reelection of the pro-Weber Jean Claude Juncker as head of the eurozone group of finance ministers, Italy’s contender for the top ecb job has one other powerful supporter: the Vatican. Being a Jesuit-educated devout son of the Roman Catholic Church gives Draghi great favor with the Vatican. Torn between supporting his fellow countryman or a son of the church, the German Pope Benedict would naturally place his largely behind-the-scenes yet influential voice behind Draghi.

It will be intriguing to watch this contest for what has suddenly, by virtue of the Greek financial crisis, become the most powerful central banking seat on the planet. One thing is for sure, whether it be the German Axel Weber, or the Roman Mario Draghi, whoever wins that seat will have significant influence over a monetary policy that is destined to soon be used as a mighty tool in fulfilling a dramatic prophecy contained in the 15th and 16th verses of the 13th book of Revelation!

For more on this subject, read our booklet Daniel Unlocks Revelation.