Berlin wants Schaeuble deputy as new ECB economist

10th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany on Saturday put forward state finance secretary Joerg Asmussen to replace Juergen Stark as European Central Bank chief economist.

Stark quit unexpectedly Friday, citing personal reasons for his departure before the end of his term of office in May 2014, a move that sent European stock markets plunging.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told a press conference at a meeting of G8 finance ministers in Marseille on Saturday that his deputy Asmussen, a 45-year-old Social Democrat, had been nominated to fill the post.

"His qualifications will likely be of great use to us," Schaeuble said.

The appointment has still to be approved by other European governments, but Schaeuble said he had raised Asmussen's name with Eurogroup president Jean-Claude Juncker on Friday.

"My impression is that this proposition will receive a very positive welcome from our partners," the finance minister said.

Asked by reporters about future policy at the ECB, Asmussen, who attended the conference, made reference to Bundesbank president Jens Weidmann.

"It is known that we, Mr Weidmann and I, are close economically-speaking," he said.

Weidmann said meanwhile in an interview with the weekly Bild am Sonntag newspaper that he would continue to defend Germnay's "monetary orthodoxy" following Stark's departure.

ECB watchers have suggested his decision to step down could point to deeper differences among EU and eurozone policy makers over the way out of the current debt crisis.

Stark has been critical of the bank's controversial programme of buying bonds of eurozone countries who find themselves unable to affordably borrow on the markets.

In a commentary to be published Monday in the German daily Handelsblatt, Stark called for drastic reforms to strengthen economic governance of the eurozone.

"We find ourselves in a situation where risks to public budgets undermine financial stability," wrote Stark.

Schaeuble said Friday the German government "regrets and acknowledges with respect" Stark's decision to step down.

© 2011 AFP

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