Leadership race heats up at Bank of Italy that Draghi once headed
Rome, Italy - The euro area’s third-largest economy is seeking someone to help oversee its struggling recovery - and review the European Central Bank (ECB) stimulus the country relies upon.
Competition for the top job at the Bank of Italy, which comes with a seat on the ECB’s Governing Council, is heating up. The position has a high-profile history - ECB president Mario Draghi led the Rome-based central bank from the end of 2005 until 2011, and earlier governors Luigi Einaudi and Carlo Azeglio Ciampi went on to be national presidents.
Although Draghi’s successor Ignazio Visco could be reappointed when his term ends this fall, the field is filled with credible potential candidates such as Finance Minister Pier Carlo Padoan, according to Italian media. Other names in the frame include ECB supervisory board member Ignazio Angeloni and - in what would be a break with tradition - economist Lucrezia Reichlin.
The changeover comes at a sensitive time for the ECB, which is about to consider whether the euro area’s robust recovery warrants winding down its quantitative-easing programme. The difficulty for Italy is that it is probably the region’s biggest weak spot, with slow growth and an acute problem of non-performing loans.
The 67 year old Visco, who started his six year term on November 1, 2011, has run into criticism over his handling of the country’s banking predicament, leading to speculation he may be a one-term governor.
The central-bank chief must be ‘able to successfully deal with Italy’s banking crisis, which isn’t over yet’, said Luigi Zingales, a professor at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, who himself has been mentioned as a possible choice by Rome’s la Repubblica newspaper.
Visco’s challengers may in- clude two close colleagues at the central bank, senior deputy governor Salvatore Rossi and deputy governor Fabio Panetta, according to news reports. Like Angeloni, Panetta is a member of the board of the ECB’s single supervisory mechanism, which oversees the region’s largest lenders.
Another possible pick is said to be Andrea Enria, chairman of the European Banking Authority.
Gender might play a role, giving an edge to candidates such as Lucrezia, currently a professor at London Business School. If chosen, she would become the central bank’s first woman governor in its more than 120 year history.