The hard men who call the shots at the Deutsche Bundesbank

Click to follow
The Independent Online
HELMUT SCHLESINGER

Aged 68, has spent 40 years serving the mark. He is its chief ideologue, a man whose heart beats to the rhythms of the anti-inflationary chants in this temple of monetary rigour. He started in the Bundesbank's predecessor, the Bank of the German States, working his way up the economics section.

He exudes the technical authority of a man who knows his job backwards and believes he is right, with a record to prove it. During the Eighties, when the then President, Karl Otto Pohl, played the elegant financial diplomat, Schlesinger fulfilled the lower-key task of Bundesbank interior minister. His key role of maintaining strict monetary discipline gave him an intimidating reputation.

In public he appears dry and formal, taking cover behind technical perorations on monetary policy that intimidate less well-versed colleagues. In private, the stiffness gives way to Bavarian warmth. There has been little to smile about in recent months, however. Schlesinger has been the focus of bitter foreign attacks on Germany's high interest rates, as well as pressure from Bonn to ease the monetary grip on a rapidly weakening German economy.

The result has been a remarkable reassessment of the Bundesbank faith. Because of the distorting effects of unification, control of the money supply is no longer viewed as the central pillar of the Bank's anti-inflationary doctrine. For Schlesinger, its architect, this has been a difficult conversion. In the Eighties he pursued this course with a single-mindedness that some abroad regarded as verging on fanaticism. Now he has been forced to realise that his world has become too complex for such inflexibility.

HANS TIETMEYER

Aged 61, the Bundesbank's king-in-waiting. He is due to take over the top job in Frankfurt from Schlesinger next summer. Their approach to the job is remarkably similar, although their careers could hardly have been more different. Whereas Schlesinger is a Bundesbank Man to the core, Tietmeyer honed his skills in the cut-and-thrust of Bonn ministerial life. An economist by training, this forbidding Westphalian started from modest beginnings at the economics ministry, where he spent 20 years before making the big break in 1982, becoming state secretary at the finance ministry.

There he acquired his reputation as a tough and usually uncompromising defender of the German corner. He became well-known on the international circuit as the government's senior sherpa for international economic summits. He combined the charms of a workaholic with obsessive attention to detail and formidable obstinacy, giving no quarter on inflation. 'Rough, tough and narrow-minded,' was how one central banking colleague described him.

He joined the Bundesbank directorate at the beginning of 1990. He was immediately poached back by Helmut Kohl to oversee the crash- course introduction of currency union with eastern Germany. This required Tietmeyer to heed the exigencies of political masters instead of the grim warnings of the Bundesbank. But once back in Frankfurt, where he was elected vice-president in August last year, there was no hint of split loyalties. In defence of the mark, he and Schlesinger speak with a single orthodox voice.

JOHANN WILHELM GADDUM

CDU politician and a friend of Chancellor Kohl. As minister of finance in the Rhineland- Palatinate parliament from 1971 to 1981, he became noted as a strong critic of the fiscal policy of the social liberal government in Bonn. For six months in 1985, he was head of the main office of the Bundesbank in Mainz, before moving into the directorate. He is regarded as a monetary superhawk, with strong experience in industry, politics and state banking.

OTMAR ISSING

Liberal economist. Since 1965 he has been economics professor at Nuremberg Erlangen and at Wurzburg. In October 1991, he joined the permanent directorate of the Bundesbank. A critic of reserve and discount policies, he has campaigned for a more market-orientated, monetarist approach. He argues strongly for rigidity in the fight for stability. He is head of research.

GUNTER STORCH

In the permanent directorate since the end of 1987. During the Sixties he led the Free Democrats in the Rhineland-Palatinate parliament. He is now the only FDP member on the ruling council of the Bundesbank.

WENDELIN HARTMANN

Joined the directorate in June 1992. He has been in the Bundesbank since 1964. An economist and computer expert, he is regarded as architect of Germany's automatic cash services. He organised a great deal of the technical side of the monetary union with the former GDR.

HELMUT SCHIEBER

Joined the Bundesbank in 1964 and became vice-president of the main office in Baden- Wurttemberg before being appointed to the permanent directorate in June this year. He is seen as a competent insider.

GUNTRAM PALM

Lawyer and former FDP politician, who joined the CDU in 1975. In Baden-Wurttemberg he served in conservative governments as minister successively of justice, the interior and finance. He has headed the main Bundesbank office in Stuttgart since April.

LOTHAR MULLER

Hardest of the hard men on the central council. He heads the main Bundesbank office in Munich. In defending the high interest rates of the Bundesbank, Muller even managed to upset the right-wing Bavarian CSU. He campaigned for a German referendum on the Maastricht treaty.

DIETER HISS

Head of the Berlin office of the Bundesbank. An ex-ministry official in Bonn, he is regarded as a thinker. He has criticised the federal government for its lack of economic help in the first year of unification. He would like to see the Bundesbank streamlined.

HANS-GEORG HERRMANN

Acting chief of the Bank's Bremen office.

WILHELM NOLLING

SPD politician and economics teacher at Hamburg University. He has been responsible for the Bank's main Hamburg office for 10 years.

HORST SCHULMANN

Tipped to succeed the head of the Hesse office, Karl Thomas, who died suddenly two months ago. Schulmann, 59, has built up the Institute of International Finance in Washington. A permanent secretary in the treasury from 1980 to 1982, he is an experienced economist and member of the SPD.

HELMUT HESSE

Head of the main office in Hanover, Lower Saxony, with an academic background and widely regarded as an outstanding economist. He served for three years as one of the 'five wise men', who report annually on economic policy.

REIMUT JOCHIMSEN

Heads the main office in Dusseldorf. A former academic, Jochimsen, a member of the SPD, worked for the national government and held ministerial portfolios in the North-Rhine Westphalia government. He is regarded as having particularly sensitive political antennae.

HEINRICH SCHREINER

Lacks the clout of the other members of the council. Known as Mr 'Say Little', he has led the main office in Rhineland-Palatinate since 1987. He will probably lose his chair in November when Rhineland-Palatinate and Saarland merge.

HANS JURGEN KOEBNICK

Probable successor to Schreiner, he is an SPD politician with no experience in monetary politics. He heads the Bundesbank in Saarbrucken.

WERNER SCHULZ

Head of the main office in Schleswig-Holstein since 1989. A rare businessman on the central council. he was chairman of the insurance group Volksfursorge.

(Photographs omitted)

Comments