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Banking

ECB Watch: Changing faces, changing places

With Mario Draghi taking up a position on the European Central Bank’s governing council, and Jürgen Stark set to be the next new member, the inner sanctum is likely to become more pragmatic than doctrinaire.

By John Arrowsmith

The European Central Bank is not the immutable autocratic monolith it’s sometimes represented as. It has an executive board of six full-time members serving eight-year non-renewable terms who, together with the governors of the 12 national central banks of the euro area, constitute the policy-making governing council, each of whose members has an equal voice. The ECB’s deliberations thus reflect a wide variety of personalities and perspectives. And personalities come and go.

Only last month, a new face appeared on the governing council. Following the resignation last December of the governor of Italy’s central bank, Antonio Fazio, amid a swelling tide of accusations, his successor, Mario Draghi, also takes his place, ex-officio, on the ECB’s governing council.

Whereas Fazio was a career central banker, Draghi has had a more varied, though equally relevant, career outside central banking. Professor of economics at the University of Florence from 1981 to 1991, he then became director general of the Italian treasury, where he served until 2001. For the past four years he has been based in London as a managing director and vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

His appointment has been welcomed by Italian politicians of both centre-left and centre-right and he is widely respected abroad.

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