Axel Weber, Germany’s top banker is quitting. At a meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin he told Angela Merkel and the finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble that he will step down as head of the Bundesbank at the end of April “for personal reasons.”
That means the hardline inflation fighter is no longer favourite to replace Jean-Claude Trichet as the next head of the European Central Bank in October; that is a blow to Merkel’s drive to secure the ECB post for a German.
With the ECB race now wide open financial markets are uneasy about how divided European policymakers will solve the euro zone’s sovereign debt crisis.
Italy is pushing the candidacy of its central bank governor Mario Draghi. Italian Economy Minister Giulio Tremonti said Europe should find the most competent person for the job independent of their nationality, but also described Draghi as an “excellent” candidate.
Also in the running is Finnish central Bank chief Erkki Liikanen, a monetary policy moderate and Luxembourg’s Yves Mersch.