Worth takes a look back at the European Central Bank president’s path to power, the power play that landed him at the top of 2012’s Power 100 list and where he is now.
Published on July 24, 2019
Mario Draghi. Photo by Stringer/AFP/Getty Images. Graphic by Amy Petriello
The president of the European Central Bank topped the Power 100 list in 2012. Here, Worth looks back at Mario Draghi’s path to power, the power play that landed him in the top spot and where he is now.
What We Said Then
Path to Power: A former Goldman Sachs bigwig, Draghi was head of Italy’s central bank before becoming president of the European Central Bank in 2011.
Power Play: Draghi oversaw the ECB’s $640 billion loan package to European banks in December 2011, and the Long-Term Refinancing Operation loan facility two months later. In early July 2012, he announced that the euro was “irreversible” and that the ECB would commit to a massive bond-buying program in order to save the eurozone. Despite some nitpicking, sighs of relief were emitted around the globe and international markets soared. The impact on Draghi’s fortunes was equally significant: His announcement showed that he had corralled enough members of the ECB’s governing board to form a consensus—not an easy bit of internal politicking. And by decisively committing the ECB to forceful intervention in the eurozone crisis, Draghi showed that he is more powerful in economic matters—and, by extension, the future of Europe—than any individual head of state. That influence carries across the Atlantic as well; Europe’s uncertainty has placed a heavy drag on the U.S. recovery. Draghi’s plan still faces challenges, in particular from the internal politics of participating countries. But there is more hope for an end to Europe’s debt crisis now than there has been since it began, and much credit for that goes to Draghi.
Draghi’s eight-year term ends in October, and he leaves having had a tremendous impact: Draghi, 71, is widely credited with saving the euro during Europe’s sovereign debt crisis and subsequently helping to steer the region’s economic recovery. Christine Lagarde has been nominated to become the ECB’s next president, but it’s unclear what Draghi will do next. It’s fair to say, though, that Draghi, who was previously a professor and a vice chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs International, among other posts, has many options.