Who controls ECB (European Central Bank)?

ECBThis is a strange story. We were having a chat after the project meeting finished and somehow the subject of European Central Bank (ECB) came up. I don’t remember why or how but the question was raised: who controls the ECB? Well, I knew that ECB was a company but I did not know details. So I had to have a look. The results are … well, this could have been expected.

Okay, so ECB is a bank, a commercial entity with all European Central Banks as shareholders. No surprises there. So whoever controls the Central Banks of the EU countries – controls the ECB. Now the next question is, of course, who controls the Central Banks?

I did not check them all but I suspect they are all organized the same way: the government (I could not find out how) is the shareholder and owner of the Central Bank. It seems that even where the Central Banks were private, they were nationalized some time ago. So they are all publicly owned. But there is a catch.

You see, the Central Banks have a note on their pages and in the documents that effectively says: “we are not controlled by the government”. I cannot imagine why, but all right, so the Central Banks are not controlled by the government, that’s just the way they are set up. So the owners actually do not control the banks. Who controls them then?

In this case, since there is no other obvious control mechanism, the Board of Directors and, in the first place, the Governor, will be controlling the Central Bank. Again, it seems that all banks in Europe are set up identically. So their management actually controls the Central Banks and therefore controls the ECB. A financial empire, no less. Very well. Who are the management and can we see any clear affiliations there?

And that’s where it got messy. Some countries’ Central Banks do not disclose any information about the governors – those are double suspicious. But all of the others show affiliation with U.S. one way or another. Here is the list of governors and those of their past affiliations that could be easily found.

  • ECB: Mario Draghi, President – Goldman Sachs, World Bank
  • Bank of England: Mark Carney, Governor – Goldman Sachs
  • Bank of France: Christian Noyer, Governor  – IMF, World Bank
  • Deutsche Bundesbank: Jens Weidmann, President – IMF
  • Bank of Greece: Yannis Stournaras, Governor – IMF
  • De Nederlandsche Bank: Klaas Knot, president  – IMF
  • Banca d’Italia: Ignazio Visco, governor – OECD
  • National Bank of Austria: Ewald Nowotny, Governor – EIB; Andreas Ittner, Vice Governor – IMF
  • Banco de España: Luis M. Linde, Governor – Inter-American Development Bank (IADB)
  • Riksbank (Sweden Central Bank): Stefan Ingves, Governor  – IMF
  • Norges Bank: Øystein Olsen, Governor – Center for Economic Analysis; Jon Nicolaisen, Deputy Governor – OECD
  • National Bank of Belgium: Luc Coene, Governor – IMF
  • Bank of Portugal: Carlos da Silva Costa, governor – EIB
  • Banque centrale du Luxembourg: Gaston REINESCH, governor – EIB, BNP Paribas
  • National Bank of Poland: Marek Belka, Head – Columbia University, University of Chicago and London School of Economics, World Bank, JP Morgan
  • Hungarian National Bank: György Matolcsy, Governor – European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
  • National Bank of Romania: Mugur Isărescu, Governor – Romanian Embassy in the United States
  • Bulgarian National Bank: Ivan Iskrov, Governor – US Treasury and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago
  • Czech National Bank: Miroslav Singer, Governor – University of Pittsburgh, PricewaterhouseCoopers
  • Bank of Estonia: Ardo Hansson, Governor – World Bank, Harvard University
  • Central Bank of Ireland: Patrick Honohan, Governor – IMF
  • Bank of Latvia: Ilmars Rimsevics, Governor – St. Lawrence University (USA), Clarkson University (USA)
  • National Bank of Slovakia: Jozef Makúch, Governor – IMF, World Bank

There is no information about the governors of the Central Banks of Finland, Denmark, Croatia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Slovenia. What do those have to hide?

Anyhow, it looks like to get to rule the finances of a country you have to follow one of the routes: work at IMF for a while, study and teach in US universities, or work at one of the big US banks or consultancy companies. The research into the control structures of those are left as an exercise for the reader.

So, as far as I can see, the ECB is controlled by U.S. commercial structures. What a surprise.

3 thoughts on “Who controls ECB (European Central Bank)?

  1. Great stuff. I have been using your article on the ECB. The list of central bank governors and their resume makes people’s jaw drop.
    спасибо

  2. I had a rather sleepless night as my brain kept churning on this same question. And how can the ECB take what are in fine deeply political decisions like introducing negative interest rates? And what if someting goes wrong with their policies, which is actually rather likely? It would affect every citizen. How will the ECB be held accountable?

  3. Yeah, all corrupted… Next generation of ECB governors should be coming all from working the fields with a shovel and feeding animals. That way we make sure they have not been influence by the privately owned banking system.
    The governor for each country is appointed by the head of state. So the countries don’t control the banks directly but decides who will be ruling them. Obviously since Russian standards interpret that all EU governments are USA puppets then yes, USA controls the ECB… (sarcasm)

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