Talent & Skills

The man of the decade

Milano Finanza - 7 January 2020

July 26, 2012, London. While tensions on sovereign spreads were threatening the Eurozone, Mario Draghi talked to the sceptic community of the City. The speech of the President of the European Central Bank was brief and incisive and this was its conclusion: «Within our mandate, the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough».

Due to this resolution and for its persistent observance, Mario Draghi is considered as the man of the ‘10s by an overwhelming majority of respondents to a survey carried out by Milano Finanza within the financial community. Starting from the famous “whatever it takes” phrase, Draghi «has saved the Euro from failure and has always been rational in carrying on a monetary policy through innovative solutions and in managing the market expectations», stated a top manager.

But Super Mario’s action goes beyond the Eurozone because, as the leader of an investment fund said, «his work has influenced the whole world: his leadership in the monetary policy had a huge role in the Euro zone, as he managed to preserve it through important innovative measures, even at a global level». Thanks to his action, started at the London speech and ended at the latest press conference at Eurotower on 24 October, the former president of the ECB was elected as the man of the decade within the economic and financial community.

Another protagonist in a negative sense: David Cameron

Six months after Mario Draghi speech, on 23 January 2013, the then UK Prime Minister promised, in case of his re-election, a referendum on the membership of the UK to the EU by the end of 2017. So, the endless Brexit saga started, leading to an unexpected majority of votes for “Leave”, whose consequences are still uncertain. Due to his reckless electoral move, Cameron was considered as the greatest disappointment of the ‘10s by the panel of respondents to the MF-Milano Finanza survey.

The leader of Tories «did not understand that the country needed to be better guided», stated an entrepreneur and «underestimated the effects of the Brexit referendum, which we are still suffering today after years», added a top player of the European financial community. Moreover, the referendum announced by Cameron, «which should have strengthened his political leadership, has rather led to its end, drawing the United Kingdom to Brexit», concluded an asset manager.

The former UK prime minister was criticized for his lack of forethought, which many also noted in the Italian politics of this decade, as it is considered as the second greatest disappointment of the ‘10s. The governments of the latest years have been «unable to find appropriate solutions to support and stimulate growth, including measures aimed at supporting the internationalization of companies and investments in Italy by foreign companies», stated a consultant.

The exponent of a primary financial institution was even more severe, stating that «the whole politics deceives the country and has been lying for a long time». And there is no lack of severe criticisms on single Prime Ministers of Italy, such as Mario Monti (who «did not believe in his mission to the end») and Silvio Berlusconi (who «did not accomplish the expected reforms»).

While both men of the decade – the best one and the worst one – are European, the ‘20s start with a focus on the United States. According to the majority of respondents, Donald Trump will be the person whose conduct can most influence the economic-financial area at a global level, either in a positive or in a negative sense.

In fact, some praise the US president, because since his installation in 2017, he «has broken the mould on many aspects», while others criticize him «due to his extremist position against the green conversion of economy and the imposition of duties that damage international trade».

To this regard, a manager affirmed: «in the last year of his term, Trump can jeopardize the global geopolitical balances even more». So, the US elections will be a decisive event in 2020, even for Europe. In the meantime, the Old Continent is looking for a leader who, some see in the new president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, or by the new president of the ECB Christine Lagarde, who «could surprise those who expect a conduct in line with that of her predecessor Mario Draghi», stated an asset manager.

How will then Italy move in the European and international scenario that is reshaping? Respondents show a certain mistrust on the issue, considering that a high number of them answered that “nobody” will be the Italian man of 2020. «In Italy, everything changes but everything remains the same”, stated the manager of an important international company. «Italy has always been only influenced by global and European trends, as a boat that can, at the most, rig the sails but that cannot thrash».

On the other hand, according to a foreign consultant, next year, «after many postponements, Italy will be again at the core of the discussion in Europe, affirming its real capacity to get over the structural fragility of its public accounts and of its competitiveness». In this context, the Minister of Economy Roberto Gualteri will act as steerer, being «responsible for a very delicate economic-financial synthesis activity», stated a major international institution. Unless Matteo Salvini will prevail, and many have indicated him as a possible surprise for 2020.

The leader of Lega could have a strong impact on the market, «should he assume a hostile conduct against the Euro and the EU, affirmed a manager. According to a financial services company, Salvini «will condition politics, including economic politics, of Italy even from the opposition, which will be more oriented to the short term rather than to the long term». In general terms, the majority of respondents seem to be uncertain on 2020 in Italy and this is shown by the fact that 12 different people have been indicated as the possible protagonists of the year.

On the contrary, a protagonist of the Italian economy emerged in the past decade: Sergio Marchionne. The manager was given credit for «saving Fiat and transforming it through the acquisition of Chrysler into one of the most important car-makers in the world», rendering it «a flagship of the global automobile industry», explained two respondents.

On the other hand, stated another respondent, «his decision to give up the Fabbrica Italia project has influenced the fate of the Italian automotive supply chain». Thanks to the work of Marchionne, concluded the CEO of a financial institution, «today, Fca can deal with the merger with the Peugeot group thanks to a valuable positioning».