Bundesbank chief signals interest in ECB presidency job

Jens Weidmann indicates he is open to succeeding Mario Draghi

Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann said public discussion of who will succeed Mario Draghi as ECB president had started “much too early”. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann said public discussion of who will succeed Mario Draghi as ECB president had started “much too early”. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

 

Jens Weidmann has signalled he is open to succeeding Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank, the Bundesbank chief’s strongest hint so far that he wants the job.

“I believe that every member of the governing council should have the willingness to contribute to monetary policy also in a different role,” the German told Funke Mediengruppe in an interview published on Saturday.

Mr Weidmann said public discussion of who will follow in Draghi’s footsteps at the end of 2019 had started “much too early”. Euro-zone governments are unlikely to decide on a successor this year.

Mr Weidmann, who became Bundesbank president in 2011, has himself stoked talk of the ECB succession race in a series of comments responding to questions about his status as the perceived front runner.

In an interview with the Financial Times published in February, Mr Weidmann – one of the most hawkish central bankers in the euro zone – discussed his views on the ECB presidency at length. The newspaper then likened him to the 12th century archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, referring to how an institution can change the convictions of the person who runs it.

Mr Weidmann, who is 50, clearly liked the analogy. He used it just days later in describing incoming ECB vice-president Luis de Guindos. The Spaniard’s move directly from the helm of his country’s economy ministry has raised eyebrows in Frankfurt and elsewhere because of the implications for ECB political independence.

Fellow governing council member, Bank of Finland governor Erkki Liikanen, indicated on Saturday he might be open to considering the ECB job if asked.

In his interview with Funke, Mr Weidmann also reiterated his call for ending asset purchases soon. Investors predict bond buying will not continue beyond the end of the year and “I consider that thoroughly plausible because the economy in the euro area is doing markedly well and businesses are very much working to capacity.”

The ECB’s governing council next meets on June 14th to set monetary policy. – Bloomberg