Draghi Comes Out on Top—Again!

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Draghi Comes Out on Top—Again!

ECB head Mario Draghi shows he is not prepared to bow to Merkel or Sarkozy.

In a masterful stroke of diplomacy, Mario Draghi has again asserted his authority and his independence, preventing Berlin and France from meddling overmuch in the European Central Bank’s (ecb’s) affairs.

Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy sought to apply pressure on Draghi to have him accede to their requests to have their nominee accepted to replace Jürgen Stark of Germany, who stepped down from the position as the ecb’s chief economist at the end of 2011.

Ever the master diplomat (a key Jesuit skill), Draghi neatly sidestepped both Merkel and Sarkozy by appointing one of the bank’s executive board members, the Belgian Peter Praet, to the position. In so doing, Draghi has made a strong point underlining his independence from Berlin and Paris.

Regarding Praet’s appointment, Agence France-Presse reported, “The decision came as a surprise since two board members, Joerg Asmussen of Germany and Benoit Coeure of France, had been seen as the top rival candidates to take over the economics portfolio” (January 3).

Commenting on the afp story, The Local observed, “Both Berlin and Paris had laid claim to the coveted economics portfolio in recent months amid deepening differences over the role the ecb should take in the eurozone debt crisis. … Germany had assumed its number two at the Finance Ministry, Jörg Asmussen, would automatically take over. But Paris threw its hat into the ring in November in the person of Coeure, chief economist at the French Economy and Finance Ministry and number two at the French Treasury. … Ever since the ecb was set up, the position of chief economist has been held by a German—first Otmar Issing and then Stark” (January 4).

Nevertheless, it is Germany, rather than France, which ought to be at least somewhat pleased by Praet’s appointment, considering that he spent his first 17 formative years living in and being acculturated into German ways before relocating to Belgium. Praet speaks both German and French fluently.

Draghi also used this opportunity to reshuffle responsibilities at the ecb more to his liking. The result is that Germany wins out over France in its tussle for a prestige appointment at the ecb. One can tell that Draghi structures his alliances to go with the strength. “Asmussen will be responsible for international and European relations, meaning he will be the ecb’s representative at international meetings and attend meetings of the so-called Eurogroup and ecofin. He will also be responsible for legal services and overseeing the building of the ecb’s new premises and the central bank’s permanent representation in Washington” (ibid).

The Frenchman Coeure will be responsible for information systems and market operations.

By asserting his independent authority with these appointments, Draghi has sent a strong message to Merkel and Sarkozy that he is prepared to play things his own way as head of the world’s most powerful central bank. Yet he has also shown that he is prepared to favor Germany over France.

So, once again it’s game, set and match to Rome’s man heading the ecb. Time will tell that Draghi’s assertiveness will only serve to further strengthen the alliance between Germany, Rome and the ecb—not a surprising outcome to those aware of the prophecies of Revelation 13 and 17.