Bundesbank President Axel Weber said a lack of “acceptance” among euro-area leaders for his views on monetary policy caused him to give up on becoming the next chief of the European Central Bank, Der Spiegel reported.
Weber, who resigned yesterday, said his decision not to aim to replace Jean-Claude Trichet as ECB president started forming last May, fueled by misgivings from “several governments” over his opposition to the ECB’s program of buying government bonds.
“The president is in an exceptional position,” Weber said in an interview with the German magazine published today. “But if he represents a minority opinion on important matters, then the credibility of his office suffers.” Bundesbank spokesman Benedikt Fehr confirmed Weber’s remarks by telephone.
The loss of the front-runner for the ECB’s top job leaves European leaders balancing whether to reward policy experience or protect national interest in picking Europe’s main monetary official. Weber said “it’s not so important” what nationality the next ECB chief has, though he called for Trichet’s successor to be “credible” and embody a “stability culture.”
Weber, in his first public comments on the circumstances of his resignation, said the “clear positions” he adopted over the past year, for instance his opposition to the ECB’s purchasing of sovereign assets, reduced support in government circles for his promotion to ECB president.
“These stances may not have always helped my acceptance to several governments,” the central banker said. “Therefore, I’ve been aware since last May that a potential candidacy would be impaired by this. It was this period during which my conviction formed not to pursue this important office.”
The departing Bundesbank chief hailed Jens Weidmann, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s top economic adviser and one of his former students, as an “absolute professional.” Weidmann is a leading candidate to replace Weber at the helm of the Frankfurt-based German central bank, Bild newspaper reported Feb. 9, citing unidentified government and central bank officials.
“Weidmann is an excellent economist,” Weber said. “He would from the first day live the contents of his new position in every office.”
Weber said his “principal concerns” about the ECB’s bond-buying program haven’t abated, though the volume of funds the bank is lending to governments is “still controllable.” Weber said the ECB won’t let up in its fight against inflation even after he leaves the Bundesbank on April 30.
“The ECB council vehemently stands up for a stability-oriented monetary policy and I have no doubt that the stability orientation of the ECB and Bundesbank will persist also under my successor,” Weber said.
Following his departure from central banking, Weber will return to his professorship at Cologne University, spokesman Fehr said. Weber was put on leave by the university for the seven years he ran Germany’s central bank and he will resume his academic duties by the end of this year.
In the Spiegel interview, Weber declined to comment on reports in German media outlets including Die Welt saying he might succeed Josef Ackermann as chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank AG, the country’s largest commercial bank.
“For as long as I am in office, I’m having no talks about my future career,” he said. “With no one.”