Draghi takes over European Central Bank

Posted on October 31, 2011

MILAN -- Mario Draghi, known as ‘Super Mario’ in Italy for his assured track record, takes over the European Central Bank on Tuesday at a crucial moment for a eurozone confronting a make or break debt crisis.

Chosen to succeed France’s Jean-Claude Trichet as ECP president, Draghi has spoken of the debt quagmire as a historic opportunity, with the bloc heading -- hopefully -- “towards a new European pact.”

The banker, once a Roman Catholic school student and later a banker at Goldman Sachs, is well known in Italy for his discretion and able handling of the banking system and for restoring the image of the Italian central bank.

He is well known internationally, winning credit for his role in helping ease the 2008-09 global financial crisis.

The publicity-shy 64-year-old has cultivated relationships across the party spectrum in Italy but he has steered away from the social scene in Rome and has not publicly expressed any personal political ambitions.

The economist -- who is sometimes referred to in the press as “Super Mario” -- is known as a protege of Carlo Azeglio Ciampi, an influential former central bank governor who served as Italy’s president between 1999 and 2006.

Mr. Draghi restored credibility to the Italian central bank after it was tarnished by a scandal involving former governor Antonio Fazio.

Mr. Fazio was accused of insider trading in 2005 for allegedly rigging the competition to take over an Italian bank and he is still under investigation.

Mr. Draghi, appointed to replace Mr. Fazio in 2005, quit his job as a senior investment banker at Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs where he started in 2002.

He took firm action during the global financial crisis and so helped spare Italy’s banking system from the worst.

The crisis gave Mr. Draghi international status as head of the Financial Stability Board, which was charged by the Group of 20 (G20) leading world economies to draw up guidelines so as to avoid a repeat of the crisis.

Born in Rome on September 3, 1947, Draghi is married and a father of two children.

He graduated in economics from Rome University and has a doctorate from the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the United States.

He taught economics in various Italian universities and went on to represent Italy at the World Bank between 1984 and 1990, and was then appointed director general of the Italian Treasury in 1991.

He held that post for 10 years under nine governments from both right and the left and became a crucial player behind a wave of privatizations in Italy between 1996 and 2001. -- AFP