Clear words instead of diplomacy: 65-year-old Axel Weber

“In addition to more free time, I will definitely start something new, which is exciting and motivates me”: Axel A. Weber.

Source: Gian Ehrenzeller / KEYSTONE / dpa

Axel Weber is not known for diplomacy. Clear Words is one of his trademarks. Webber confidently occupied many roles, and now a 65-year-old native of the Palatinate.

WScientist, head of the central bank, banker – Axel Weber has made a name for himself in various roles. He even had a good chance of becoming the supreme custodian of the currency in Europe.

But the man from the Palatinate did not let himself be bent. The economist has founded UBS since 2012. Shortly after his 65th birthday on Tuesday (March 8), Weber’s ten-year tenure at Switzerland’s largest bank is set to expire: On April 6, shareholders are due to elect at the Bank’s general meeting UBS Ireland’s Colm Kelleher selects new chairman.

“If I wasn’t convinced by the content, I would say so too”—Weber was considered an uncomfortable critic at times even during his time as a scientist. “Weber is not the greatest diplomat, but he always goes into depth, and is of course not always pleasant to his interlocutors,” said economist Manfred J. M. Newman, who died in the meantime.

When the European Central Bank (ECB) decided in May 2010 to help Greece by buying bonds during the euro debt crisis, Weber – president of the Deutsche Bundesbank since April 2004 – publicly opposed it. The fact that “Polterbanker” (“FAZ”) Weber accused his colleagues on the ECB Council in “Börsen-Zeitung” the day after the controversial decision of sacrificing the independence of the central bank led to Weber’s resignation from the Bundesbank leadership. At the beginning of 2011, the monetary policy hardliner capitulated, thereby depriving himself of the opportunity to become the head of the European Central Bank himself. On May 1, 2011, Weber’s former student Jens Weidmann took first place in the Bundesbank. In the years that followed, Weidmann worked in the very loose ECB cycle and resigned early at the end of 2021.

Weber’s path began in the counties. Glan-Münchweiler is the name of the village in the Palatine Hills where Weber grew up with two younger brothers, the son of a social democrat mayor. What is the recipe for the success of a high school graduate with long hair? The following anecdote is quoted from the memory of Weber’s supervisor, Hans-Eddie Löw: Weber, who was in the process of qualifying as a professor, was awarded a professorship at Bonn. Love’s wife said at a party, Boy, how lucky you were. “Not so lucky,” Webber replied. “ability.”

Weber received his Ph.D. and qualification from the Chair in Money and Currency at the University of Siegen. He then held chairs at the universities of Bonn (1994-1998), Frankfurt/Main (1998-2001) and Cologne (2001-2004). Weber was already able to weave his web into politics as an economics professor: in the years 2002 to 2004, the economist was one of the “Five Wise Men” who, as an expert, evaluated the overall economic development of the federal government.

After the abrupt end of his time as a career changer in the world of central banking, Weber was traded as a possible successor to Joseph Ackermann at the helm of Deutsche Bank. Instead, a father of two, who is married to an Englishwoman, was elected chair of the UBS competitor’s supervisory board in May 2012.

“UBS was a symbol of the Swiss economy until it was hit hard by the financial crisis and had to be backed by the state. We want to rebuild this icon,” Webber described his motives in an interview with “Manager Magazin” in December 2020.

Football fan (1. FC Kaiserslautern) pushes ahead with UBS restructuring: bloated investment banking shrinks and asset management expands. The latest annual financial data was better than analysts had expected: The bottom line was a profit of nearly $7.5 billion (about 6.8 billion euros) for the whole of 2021, up 14 percent from the previous year.

“From the outset, Weber set a goal of unraveling and resolving the thorny regulatory legacy step by step, partly through comparisons,” summed up the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in November 2021. And he succeeded—mostly: the Court of Cassation in Paris wanted the financial giant not to be acquitted of Allegations of tax fraud and money laundering, even in the second case, but imposed a fine of billion. UBS resumed. It’s also about Weber’s legacy.

When asked what came after UBS, Weber replied in an interview with “Manager Magazin” in December 2020: “I was in academia, in a central bank, and now in the private sector. In addition to having more free time, I will definitely start something new, which is It’s exciting and motivates me. But it’s also clear: I’m not a completely retired person already.” On his 65th birthday, the German news agency DPA learned the following from his environment: “First of all, Axel Weber looks forward to what has been neglected in recent years: in particular, to have more time for his family.”

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