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Business Analysis & Features

The business on: Wolfgang Schäuble, Finance Minister, Germany

Angela Merkel's pointman on the eurozone crisis?

Exactly. Mr Schäuble was pushing the German party line again yesterday, dismissing calls from other European finance ministers for a new type of euro-denominated bond.

What does he want to do instead?

The Germans are determined to see tough sanctions on single currency zone members whose fiscal rectitude is found wanting. They also want to see investors take a share of the pain when countries have to be bailed out.

Will Mr Schäuble get his way?

Most of it. For one thing, the Germans have the economic and financial firepower to call the shots in the eurozone. For another, Mr Schäuble is renowned for taking no prisoners.

Tell us more.

One might characterise his approach as blunt. Last month, he described the economic policy of the US, supposedly a close ally of Germany, as "clueless". Yesterday, he said investors who have criticised the European response to this crisis "do not understand the euro". He's made a string of similarly forthright statements over the years.

That approach can't have won him too many friends?

This isn't a popularity contest you know. But it's fair to say even some of Germany's supporters have been irritated by Mr Schäuble from time to time. Still, he's widely regarded. The FT made him "European financeminister of the year" yesterday.

A career politician?

He started out as a tax administrator and then became a lawyer. But he's been a senior member of German administrations for 30 odd years – he was Ms Merkel's Interior minister until moving to finance a year ago.

Is he popular at home?

People certainly admire his triumph over adversity. He's been confined to a wheelchair since a mentally-ill man tried to assassinate him in 1990, shooting him three times. In themid-nineties, he was widely tipped as Helmut Kohl's most likely successor as Chancellor, until their CDU party lost the 1997 election.