FT - Lenihan Europe's worst finance minister

Monday 06 December 2010 19.55
Brian Lenihan - Said to be 'overwhelmed' by crisis
Brian Lenihan - Said to be 'overwhelmed' by crisis

Brian Lenihan has been named as Europe's worst finance minister in a survey of economists by the Financial Times. He was ranked 19th in the survey for the second year in a row.

Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble was named as Europe's top finance minister in the survey.

Poland's Jacek Rostowski came in second ahead of last year's winner, France's Christine Lagarde, in the survey of the finance ministers of the European Union's 19 biggest economies.

Britain's George Osborne was sixth. George Papaconstantinou of Greece came eighth.

Among other EU members that markets see as having shaky finances, Elena Salgado of Spain shared 17th place with Hungary's Gyorgy Matolcsy, one place ahead of Teixeira dos Santos of Portugal.

The FT's 'jury' of economists ranked the finance ministers on the basis of their political skills - for which Mr Papaconstantinou got top marks - as well as economic performance and credibility in the markets.

Mr Schaeuble scored well thanks to an expansionary fiscal policy as Germany suffered its worst postwar recession last year and his exit strategy this year as Europe's biggest economy has recovered strongly, the FT said.

'The strength of Germany's rebound was one of the big surprises of 2010,' the newspaper said.

Mr Schaeuble, 68, was in large part responsible, while also crafting 'an exit strategy to bring public finances closer to balance,' it added.

Brian Lenihan was 'overwhelmed by the crisis in Ireland's banking system and the implosion of the country's economic growth,' the FT said.

Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers were due in Brussels this afternoon for a meeting that was to be dominated by the crisis facing the single currency.

Divisions have emerged over a joint Luxembourg-Italy proposal for the creation of euro bonds as a way to promote liquidity and stability within the eurozone system.

Meanwhile, today’s meeting of eurozone ministers saw German Chancellor Angela Merkel rebuff calls for a bigger eurozone financial safety net or joint euro bonds, as ministers appeared split on how to stem the 16-nation currency area's debt crisis.

International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn urged the ministers to increase the size of a €750 billion bailout mechanism for debt-stricken states and suggested the European Central Bank step up purchases of government bonds.