According to Mario Draghi, the Italian leader of the European Central Bank, the Eurozone can now exhale.
Born just two years after the end of World War II into a broken country on the losing side of the war, Mario Draghi instinctively understands that the instability and hardship caused by en masse unemployment and uncontrolled inflation can be dangerous for even the most deep-rooted democracies.
He first took the reigns of the European Central Bank (ECB) at possibly the most difficult moment in the euro’s short history. Since his appointment in November 2011, the situation hasn’t gotten easier.
But Draghi hasn’t earned the title “Super Mario” for nothing. Perhaps the most prominent and powerful defender of the euro and European integration, he has taken consistent steps to avert short term disaster and drag the world’s second largest economy out of the proverbial dog box.
Worldwide economic recovery is quite dependent on the recovery of the EU, and although the reach of the ECB is somewhat limited, Draghi is fighting to keep the system afloat.
Although the road ahead is long and the economic speculations are yet to filter through to the reality of European citizens, Draghi and European leaders are starting to breathe more easily, and believe that the worst is now behind us.
“We can begin 2013 on a more confident note, precisely because significant progress was made during 2012,” he said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in January. “The darkest clouds over the euro area subsided.”
Although the euro-area economy is expected to shrink slightly in 2013, a gradual recovery is predicted to start later in the year as troubled countries make solid progress in bringing public finances under control and continue moves to increase competitiveness.
There are many who believe Draghi has done too much and overstepped his mandate, and just as many who believe he has done too little. He himself, however, does not seem motivated by power, opinion or even influence as much as the promise of integration.
Despite the limitations of his position, he has become an archetype for credibility. His pragmatic decisions have put him in a better position than most national leaders to communicate the best way forward for the eurozone.