Weber closes door on ECB post
Published 12/02/2011 | 05:00
GERMANY'S top candidate to take over the European Central Bank has resigned after days of confusion, throwing open the race to succeed Jean-Claude Trichet.
Axel Weber will step down as head of the Bundesbank a year before his term ends, the German government said yesterday, effectively ending his chance to become the next ECB president.
His exit is a setback to Berlin and damages Angela Merkel's hopes of ensuring the post goes to a German. It comes after days of rumour and fumbled communication that left observers questioning his suitability for the role.
Italy's central bank governor Mario Draghi is widely regarded as the strongest candidate to take over after Mr Trichet leaves in October, but if he clinched the presidency it would mean both top jobs at the ECB were held by southern Europeans. Portugual's Vitor Constancio is vice-president. That could play badly in Germany, which faces the unpalatable prospect of bankrolling large parts of the eurozone's periphery.
The most likely German candidate is Klaus Regling, the 60-year-old chief of the eurozone's €440bn rescue fund, but he is not a central banker by background. The Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble said yesterday that his country had "never said it insisted on a German candidate".
Julian Callow, economist at Barclays Capital, said that Mr Draghi would do the job "immeasurably well ."