Germany's Schaeuble is Europe's top finance minister: FT
Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble was named Monday as Europe's top finance minister in a survey of economists by the Financial Times, while Brian Lenihan of eurozone casualty Ireland came last.
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.
Lenihan, whose country has just become the second eurozone member to seek a bailout after Greece, came 19th, while 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 Papaconstantinou got top marks -- as well as economic performance and credibility in the markets.
Germany's tough stance on a number of issues over the past year has ruffled the feathers of its euro partners, such has delaying a Greek rescue and calls for private investors to take losses in future bailouts.
However, 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.
Schaeuble, 68, was in large part responsible, while also crafting "an exit strategy to bring public finances closer to balance," it added.
Lenihan was "overwhelmed by the crisis in Ireland's banking system and the implosion of the country's economic growth," the
© 2010 AFP