A French ECB President Again? Don’t Rule It Out If Germany Balks

If French President Emmanuel Macron decides to put forward a candidate to succeed Italy’s Mario Draghi as head of the European Central Bank, he’ll have plenty of names to choose from

Of 10 potential successors identified by economists in a Bloomberg survey, three are French — more than any other nation. Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau, ECB Executive Board member Benoit Coeure, and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde are all considered to be contenders when Draghi leaves in October 2019.

The heavyweight French presence reflects the country’s deep pool of experienced administrators, partly due to its elite grandes ecoles, which could help Macron convince other European Union member states that France deserves the presidency for a second time. Jean-Claude Trichet led the institution from 2003-2011.

In contrast, Germany has never had the post despite being Europe’s largest economy, and Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann’s chances may have faded on signs Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to secure the EU Commission presidency for her nation instead. Finland’s Erkki Liikanen is the new frontrunner — a compromise option from a small country — but it’s a tight race.

“It’s clearly possible for France to succeed again,” said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING-Diba AG and a former European Commission economist. “I would struggle to come up with three German names. That’s what the French always play extremely elegantly.”


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