Diplomacy not needed for top ECB job, says Bundesbank boss

August 20, 2010

Axel Weber, head of Germany’s Bundesbank and a frontrunner to take over the leadership of the European Central Bank next year, thinks diplomacy is over-rated in central bankers.

TrichetWeberWeber normally avoids all comment on the tricky subject of choosing a successor to current ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet but with just over a year to go before the plum post comes up, could not resist making an ambit claim.

Asked by a television interviewer whether  he was enough of a diplomat to take over from Trichet given his public criticism of the ECB’s decision to buy government bonds in May, Weber said he thought diplomacy was an optional extra.

“I’t's important to be diplomatic for the diplomatic corps; it’s not so important for the central bank,” he said.

“I think it’s very important for central banks to have a strong view, to basically stand for that view … that sometimes requires (putting) diplomacy in the back seat.”

Weber’s main competition for the top job, Italy’s Mario Draghi, is is no stranger to diplomacy as head of the Financial Stability Board of international regulators and is seen as more moderate than the anti-inflation Weber.

Interesting that Weber’s comments came during an interview in which he backed extending the ECB’s ultra-generous liquidity supplies into the start of next year, surprising many observers who had expected him to take a hard-line stance.

Perhaps some careful image readjustment ahead of the decision to be made by European Union leaders? Whether it will it be enough remains to be seen.

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