The Business On... Axel Weber, President, Deutsche Bundesbank

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The archetypal German banker?

Yes and no. Mr Weber runs Germany's central bank, the inflation-busting Bundesbank, and he regards fiscal prudence and pricestability as sacred. But he can be wonderfully indiscreet.

What do you mean?

Last year, he publicly attacked the European Central Bank for itsstrategy for dealing with the debtcrisis in countries such as Greece. Central bankers are meant to make such comments behind closed doors.

Has he made enemies then?

You bet. Nicolas Sarkozy, the President of France, is said to regard his behaviour as completelyunacceptable. Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB's president, isn't thought to be too impressed either.

Does he care?

Apparently not. Mr Weber has long been regarded as a candidate tosucceed Mr Trichet, who is due to step down next year. But yesterday, Bundesbank officials let it be known that Mr Weber is likely to get out of central banking next year. If that proves true, it explains why he hasn't been too worried about upsetting those with whom he should have been currying favour for the ECB job.

What might he do instead?

Those in the know point out that Josef Ackermann, the CEO of Deutsche Bank, is leaving in 2013. Maybe Mr Weber fancies a lucrative move into the private sector.

Is discretion there less vital?

You be the judge. Earlier this week, Mr Ackermann told the world why he thinks there should be more women on company boards. He said they would make the boardroom look "prettier and more colourful".

What does Mr Weber say?

He will be a little less controversial than that. The 53-year-old father of two, never seen in public without his dark hair slicked back, he has spent most of his career in academia, where such sexism is frowned upon.

And what about the ECB job?

With Mr Weber out of the way, the smart money is on Mario Draghi, the Italian central bank chief.