Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Darling deserves more credit for his role in handling the financial crisis

Sometimes you come across something which makes you wonder just how anglo-centric your view of the world is. Nothing wrong in that necessarily – I am after all English and very proud (for all our faults) to be so. But even as a proud Englander, I like to think I can take a helicopter view of all things European. However I was jolted by a Financial Times poll on who was the most effective Finance Minister in Europe is. That Christine Lagarde, the French Finance Minister, tops the poll, is no great surprise. Cool and commanding, she made her management of the financial crisis seem effortless. France has come out of the recession earlier than most and has a healthy balanced economy. However, it is by no means out of the woods yet. Even though Mme Lagarde topped the poll, the French economy ranked number 9 among the panel of experts who factored in political influence, economic assessment of each country and the credibility of each politicians.

No surprise too Brian Lenihan came bottom (out of 19) as Finance Minister for Ireland – the experts ranked the economic status 19 out of 19.

However, I think the unassuming Mr Darling should have ranked higher than 7. True his polling has been dragged down by a poor showing on the economy assessment (UK came 12th because of the disproportionate effect of the financial crisis on the City of London) but it was acknowledged he scored well on credibility (he came 4th). But overall he only ranked 7th – behind Italy’s Giulo Treomonti, for heaven’s sake. He is ranked higher than Lagarde for credibility but lower than German Finance Minister Peer “We are all doomed” Steinbruck. Steinbruck is the Vince Cable of European politics – quick to sound the alarm bells but would be less than helpful in a crisis. Darling has shown the same cool-headed leadership as Mme Lagarde. He should be in second place at least. However, maybe Ive just observed him more closely than the others and I’m just saying that from the Anglocentric perspective of things.

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