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Central bank governor of the year 1996: Antonio Fazio – unfazed and very independent

Antonio Fazio, governor of the Banca d'Italia since May 1993, has steered the Italian economy towards low inflation and further enhanced the central bank's reputation for independence.

Antonio Fazio has been governor of the Banca d'Italia since May 1993, and is only the sixth governor since the war. That's remarkable continuity in a country renowned for the short duration of its governments. Fazio is a force both for stability and consistency.

He is not one for endless policy statements or public appearances. He demonstrates his monetary policy priorities through firm and consistent signals, and his control over the banking sector through regulation and moral suasion. And when Fazio disagrees with the government, he is forthright about it. "It's my job to persuade the government of the weak points of the Italian system," he says.

Fazio's case is furthered by the exceptional understanding between himself and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, minister of treasury and budget in the Prodi government (and Fazio's predecessor as central bank governor). It also means the market knows that the one will not thwart the other. "There are two central bank governors in command of the Italian economy past and present ­ Ciampi and Fazio," says one Italian economist. "It's a fantastic situation which reaps great benefits for the country in terms of stabilization and growth.