Lucas Papademos, the man chosen to serve as interim Prime Minister of Greece at one of the most critical points in the country’s history, is well known around European financial circles, but largely a mystery to the outside world.
As a fiscal conservative and former vice president of the European Central Bank (ECB), the 64-year-old technocrat and academic may lack the charisma that Greeks tend to favor in their leaders, but is believed to be well-qualified to cope with the debt crisis and implementation of the austerity program.
Papademos’ resume is nothing short of sterling and diverse, with a heavy presence in the United States.
He attended the elite Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, where he received a degree in physics in 1970, a Masters degree in electrical engineering in 1972, as well as a doctorate in economics, in 1978. He taught economics at Columbia University in New York from 1975 and 1984 and later taught at the University of Athens from 1988 to 1993.
After working as a senior economist at the Federal Reserve of Boston, in 1980, he later joined the central bank of Greece, eventually becoming its governor by 1994. Just prior to his departure from the bank of Greece in 2002, he supervised the country’s adoption of the euro and the elimination of the old drachma currency.
The macroeconomic and microeconomic benefits for Europe and Greece from the introduction of the euro are enormous, he said at the time about the euro.
From 2002 to 2010, he served as a vice-president if the European central bank under Jean-Claude Trichet. As an adviser to former Prime Minister George Papandreou, he played a significant role in Greece’s negotiations with the IMF, the European Commission and the ECB over terms of the bailout packages.
Papademos has insisted that monetary policy alone cannot solve Europe’s economic and fiscal problems.
We have to use other policy instruments and implement reforms which can increase the economy's long-term potential growth rate, he said according to European Voice. We need supply-side measures.
On a personal note, the Daily Telegraph wryly noted that Papademos speaks fluent German and is even married to a German woman – ironic, given that many Greeks have blamed Berlin for putting undue pressure on Athens during the crisis.
Mark Lowen, a BBC correspondent in Athens, commented: “Papademos is to take on one of the most unenviable jobs in Europe at the moment. The bespectacled 64-year-old seemed the strongest choice in the current climate of turmoil. He is seen as a non-partisan option, above the party politics that is so paralyzing here. He is talked of by colleagues as a quiet, respected man - somebody who can steady the ship as it is buffeted by the waves of the financial crisis.”
Lowen added: “He helped Greece make the transition from the drachma to the euro -- something he will now hope is a one-way process, and that there will be no disastrous exit from the Eurozone as Greece's financial woes worsen… Papademos will clearly have strong European support given his past experience - but there will be some Greeks who see Europe's hand a little too clearly behind his appointment.”