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Brian Lenihan voted worst finance minister in Europe

Lenihan failed to impress the Financial Times judges with his political and economic skills.
Dec 6th 2010, 8:35 AM 1,263 0

THE FINANCIAL TIMES HAS ranked Brian Lenihan the worst European finance minister out of the 19 judged by its panel.

The FT says that Lenihan was placed among the “losers” because “some country’s problems simply proved too great to handle”.

It said: “Brian Lenihan was overwhelmed by the crisis in Ireland’s banking system and the implosion of the country’s economic growth”.

The paper reports that a “year of persistent and at times acute economic crises” meant similar challenges faced the ministers “on an unprecedented scale”.

Lenihan didn’t fare well in any of the categories outlined by the FT. Finishing last overall, Lenihan was ranked 17th for political skills, and 18th for economic skills and credibility.

The paper writes that Lenihan made a “bold” decision to guarantee the banks, but could not restore market confidence. Judge Marco Annunziata, chief economist with UniCredit, said:

Brian Lenihan of Ireland did all he could but eventually succumbed to the magnitude of the problems in his country’s banking sector.

Fellow judge Jacques Delpla, a member of the Conseil d’Analyse Economique, said that he thought Lenihan was the worst minister for guaranteeing the banks without thinking the consequences through.

Germany’s Wolfgang Schäuble was ranked first after the country’s economic rebound in 2010, and the FT also noted Schäuble’s work in bringing the country’s public finances closer to balance.

Greek minister George Papaconstantinou, who finished eighth overall, was deemed to have the best political skills. One of the judges, Erik Nielsen at Goldman Sachs, said he credits Papaconstantinou with “working through the complex details and designing what was realistically the best attempt possible to address his country’s weaknesses through policy reforms”.

The UK’s George Osborne ranked sixth overall.

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Susan Ryan


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