Weidmann Couldn’t Alter ECB Policy Quickly, Stark Tells Spiegel

(Bloomberg) -- Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann wouldn’t be able to quickly change the European Central Bank’s monetary policy if picked as its next president, Der Spiegel magazine reported, citing comments by former ECB chief economist Juergen Stark.

“Even Weidmann couldn’t flip the lever overnight. For that, governments and capital markets are too dependent on the ECB and vice versa,” the magazine quoted Stark as saying. Weidmann would, however, be the right person “to depoliticize the highly politicized ECB,” Stark said.

Otmar Issing, Stark’s predecessor as chief economist, said any new ECB president must “convince the public and the financial markets of the sustainable stability of the euro,” according to the report. He also said that the euro-zone economy will “sooner or later” experience an economic downturn, to which the ECB will need to react by “swiftly and sufficiently” pivoting to expansive monetary policy.

Economic experts in Germany’s governing CDU party increasingly expect Chancellor Angela Merkel to push Weidmann’s candidacy for the ECB’s top post if Manfred Weber fails to win the race for European Commission president, Der Spiegel’s report said. Weidmann is currently lagging behind France’s Francois Villeroy de Galhau, who is the frontrunner for the ECB job, according to Bloomberg’s latest survey of economists.

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