Money & Banking

Weber to step down as Bundesbank president

| | Updated on: Feb 13, 2011

Bundesbank President Axel Weber has said he will step down from his post at the helm of Germany’s central bank in April and is withdrawing from the race to be the next president of the European Central Bank (ECB) because of policy differences with some European governments.

In his first comments since rumours surfaced some days ago about his possible shift to Germany’s largest lender, Deutsche Bank, Mr Weber told news weekly Der Spiegel in an interview published on Saturday that he often felt marginalised by some European governments in crucial discussions on the stability of the euro.

“The president of the Bundesbank has a special position in fiscal policy discussions. However, if the president represents only a minority position on key issues, then it affects the credibility of this office,” Mr Weber said.

Mr Weber, who has been the chief of the German central bank for the last eight years, announced his intention to step down a year earlier than his current term expires in April, 2012, following a one-hour discussion with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble in Berlin on Friday.

The German government said in a press statement that he was leaving his office for “personal reasons“.

Mr Weber said he had taken clear positions on important decisions during the last twelve months. Those positions “made him lose acceptance with some governments“. Since then, he came to the conclusion that he will not run for the ECB presidency.

A hardliner on monetary policy matters, Mr Weber has been at odds with several European governments since the outbreak of the eurozone debt crisis.

He vehemently opposed the ECB buying the bonds of debt-stricken peripheral eurozone nations as part of a concerted strategy to calm down the markets. His public criticism of an ECB council decision in May 2010, to buy the bonds had angered several EU leaders.

Mr Weber said he made his decision not to seek a second term at the Bundesbank in January and informed his management board colleagues about it. However, due to an indiscretion, the news was leaked to the media.

The outgoing Bundesbank president declined to confirm or deny reports that he plans to shift to Deutsche Bank to replace its CEO, Josef Ackermann, when he retires in early 2013.

“As long as I remain in office, I will not talk about my future career plans,” he said.

He will undertake a waiting period after leaving the Bundesbank and will not seek another job until next year.

Mr Weber was widely favoured by Chancellor Merkel to succeed ECB president Jean—Claude Trichet, who retires at the end of October.

Published on February 13, 2011

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