ANOTHER day, another chance to save the world. It is not without reason that Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, is known as Super Mario.
After just 10 months in the job the 64-year-old Italian has by turns impressed, disappointed and perplexed the markets. His first decisive moves to cut rates to a record low of one per cent and flood European banks with cheap money were widely hailed as having pulled the euro back from the brink. On Thursday he pulled off a historic victory over the Bundesbank and erected what he hopes is a backstop to save the single currency.
He has a breadth of experience few central bankers can offer, spanning academia, government, the private sector and regulatory bodies. Educated in the US at MIT, he has taught at Harvard.
A stint at the World Bank in the 1980s was followed by a job as director general of the Italian treasury. He then moved into the private sector, joining Goldman Sachs for five years, before taking on the thankless task of being governor of the Bank of Italy, where he was credited with helping steer Italy's debt-ridden economy through the crisis without requiring financial assistance. Most recently, he impressed as head of the Financial Stability Board, a global bank regulator that drafted the Basel III agreement — the new regulatory framework for banks and other financial institutions.
His time in the US, in particular, is said to have influenced him, driving him to act early rather than take the German wait-and-see attitude that has often prevailed in Europe. He is said to be a good delegator, giving other members of the ECB governing board weighty roles and then letting them get on with it.
Where his predecessor, Jean-Claude Trichet, was known for being rigid and domineering, Draghi is applauded for encouraging discussion.
Notably, ECB officials refer to Draghi as Mario, whereas Trichet was always Trichet A few key facts are known about his past. He was orphaned in his mid-teens, when his biochemist mother and bank-executive father both died. Draghi was brought up by an aunt and later taken under the wing of Federico Caffe, a prominent Italian economist. A keen golfer, Draghi is said to maintain a work-life balance despite being in one of the most high-pressure jobs in the global economy.
Some say the success or failure of the plans he announced on Thursday will decide whether he can keep that job. — The Guardian, London