Lucas Papademos, the new protagonist in the Greek drama, a 65-year-old career technocrat, sets out to seek consensus among his country’s political circles, international creditors and financial markets.
He earned a physics degree from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US in 1970, then a masters in electrical engineering and a doctorate in economics. In 1980 he joined the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.
Then he went to the Bank of Greece as its chief economist, and eventually became governor in 1994.
He campaigned enthusiastically for his country’s entry into the euro single currency club, which he promoted as a shield for smaller economies in the rough and tumble of the wider world. In 2001, Greece made it in, though the euro member governments that allowed this did not rigorously apply the rules.
Soon afterwards Papademos became the European Central Bank’s Vice President beside Jean-Claude Trichet. The Papandreou government in Athens called him home for help last year. Analyst Zsolt Darvas, of the Bruegel think tank, described his technical expertise and well-known profile in Europe as sure assets.
Darvas said: “Lucas Papademos was a member of the ECB’s governor Council and as far as I know he is above the political parties and he can be a person who could unite the various political parties and could hold a government which is widely supported both by the current parliament and by the people.”
His priorities will be to reduce Greece’s debt and deficit to avoid national bankruptcy, in the headwinds of ordinary Greeks’ objections to the biting austerity process.
Papademos will ride shotgun over a coalition of the resolute, to fend off the predations of a merciless market and to try to somehow refit Greece for the rigours of the euro.