Belfast Telegraph

Lenihan 'worst finance minister'

Brian Lenihan has been named the worst finance minister in Europe in an annual ranking by a leading financial newspaper.

The Financial Times said Mr Lenihan was overcome by the scale of Ireland's crisis and failed to rescue the banks despite the massive taxpayer bailout.

"Some countries' problems simply proved too great to handle," said the newspaper. "Brian Lenihan was overwhelmed by the crisis in Ireland's banking system and the implosion of the country's economic growth."

It is the second year in a row Mr Lenihan has been ranked the worst performing of 19 European finance ministers in the newspaper's yearly league.

Ministers are judged individually on their political ability, economic performance and credibility in the international markets and then given an overall score.

Mr Lenihan was ranked second worst on both economic performance and credibility. The Fianna Fail minister fared only slightly better on political ability, as third worst, but his overall score put him at the bottom of the table.

"Having taken responsibility for 74 billion euro of their dud property loans and provided 50 billion euro of recapitalisations, the 51-year-old has run out of policy tools and the sector is back where it started - facing a funding crisis and locked out of the debt market," the newspaper said.

One of the judges, Jacques Delpla, a member of the Conseil d'Analyse Economique in Paris, said Mr Lenihan had not thought through the 440 billion euro bank guarantee scheme: "He took the decision to guarantee his country's banks in September 2010 without thinking through the consequences. The effects of that decision on the country's finances have become evident this year."

Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble topped the poll, with Poland's Jacek Rostowski in second place ahead of last year's winner, France's Christine Lagarde.

Britain's newcomer George Osborne ranked sixth, scoring highly for his political skill in "pushing through a bold fiscal austerity plan". George Papaconstantinou of Greece came in eighth after being deemed to have shown panache in his handling of his country's crisis.


From Belfast Telegraph