Wim Duisenberg

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Wim Duisenberg
Wim Duisenberg.jpg
1st President of the European Central Bank
In office
1 July 1998 – 31 October 2003
Vice President Christian Noyer (1998-2002)
Lucas Papademos (2002-2003)
Succeeded by Jean-Claude Trichet
2nd President of the European Monetary Institute
In office
1 July 1997 – 1 July 1998
Preceded by Alexandre Lamfalussy
Succeeded by Position abolished
President of the Central Bank of the Netherlands
In office
1 January 1982 – 1 July 1997
Preceded by Jelle Zijlstra
Succeeded by Nout Wellink
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
16 January 1978 – 28 June 1978
Member of the House of Representatives
In office
8 june 1977 – 8 september 1977
Minister of Finance
In office
11 May 1973 – 19 December 1977
Prime Minister Joop den Uyl
Preceded by Roelof Nelissen
Succeeded by Frans Andriessen
Personal details
Born Willem Frederik Duisenberg
(1935-07-09)9 July 1935
Heerenveen, Netherlands
Died 31 July 2005(2005-07-31) (aged 70)
Faucon, Vaucluse, France
Nationality Dutch
Political party Labour Party (since 1959)
Spouse(s) Tine Stelling
(m. 1960-1980; divorced)
Gretta Nieuwenhuizen
(m. 1987-2005; his death)
Children Pieter Duisenberg (born 1967)
One daughter and one other son
Alma mater University of Groningen (Master of Economics, Doctor of Philosophy)
University of Amsterdam (Honorary degree)
Occupation Politician
Religion Non-religious (Atheism)

Willem Frederik "Wim" Duisenberg (9 July 1935 – 31 July 2005) was a Dutch politician of the Labour Party (PvdA). He was the first President of the European Central Bank from 1 July 1998 until 31 October 2003. He was instrumental in the introduction of the euro in the European Union in 2002. He was also credited for making numerous improvements for the economy of the Netherlands. A successful economist and financier he served as Minister of Finance from 11 May 1973 until 19 December 1977, he later served as President of the Central Bank of the Netherlands.[1] He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Bilderberg Group.[2]


Early life[edit]

Willem Frederik Duisenberg was born on 9 July 1935 in the Frisian town of Heerenveen. He studied at the University of Groningen, where he received a MSc degree in Economics, with majoring in international economic relations. In 1965, he obtained a PhD degree; his thesis was "The Economic Consequences of the Disarmament".[citation needed]


Wim Duisenberg as Minister of Finance in 1975.
Wim Duisenberg and Tommaso Padoa-Schioppa in 2000.

Duisenberg subsequently worked for the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. for years followed by a year as an advisor to the director of the Nederlandsche Bank, the Dutch central bank in Amsterdam. He was then appointed a professor at the University of Amsterdam where he taught macroeconomics.

From 1973 to 1977, Duisenberg was Minister of Finance under Prime Minister Joop den Uyl, Shortly afterwards, he gave up his seat in the Dutch parliament to become vice president of Rabobank, a Dutch bank. Two years later, he was appointed director of the Nederlandsche Bank, serving as its president from 1982 to 1997.

His tenure at the Dutch central bank was marked by caution and reserve. Under his direction, the Dutch guilder was linked to the German Deutsche Mark, and this benefited the Dutch economy, owing to the strength of the German currency. He also followed German central bank's interest rate policies closely, which earned him the nickname "Mr Fifteen Minutes" because he quickly followed any interest rate changes made by the Germans.

First president of the European Central Bank[edit]

Owing to the success of his monetary policy, he became well known in other European countries, and this led to his appointment in 1998 as the first president of the new European Central Bank in Frankfurt, much to the chagrin of France, who wanted a French candidate. A compromise was agreed upon (although publicly denied by all parties) whereby Duisenberg would serve for at least four years, upon which the Frenchman Jean-Claude Trichet, director of the Banque de France, would take over. In 1999, Duisenberg received the Vision for Europe Award in recognition of his efforts toward the unification of Europe.

During his tenure at the bank, Dr. Duisenberg was known for his cautious monetary policy and for defending the euro through its early years. He sometimes frustrated investors and politicians by sticking to the bank's inflation-fighting stance, keeping rates higher than some would have liked. "I hear, but I don't listen" to such pleas, was one of his typically blunt responses. Dr. Duisenberg repeatedly said it was up to European governments to pursue structural changes such as loosening rigid rules on hiring and firing personnel if they wanted more growth.

Duisenberg announced he would retire on 9 July 2003 (his 69th birthday), but he remained in office until Trichet was cleared of charges of fraud in connection with the collapse of the French bank Crédit Lyonnais. Trichet took over presidency of the ECB on 1 November 2003.


Duisenberg died in 2005 at the age of 70 while on vacation at his villa in Faucon near Orange, France. He drowned in his swimming pool after suffering a heart attack. A commemoration service was held on 6 August 2005 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouw. Duisenberg was buried later that day in the Zorgvlied cemetery in Amsterdam.[3][4]



External links[edit]

Government offices
Preceded by
Roelof Nelissen
Minister of Finance
Succeeded by
Frans Andriessen
Civic offices
Preceded by
Jelle Zijlstra
President of the Central Bank of the Netherlands
Succeeded by
Nout Wellink
Non-profit organization positions
Preceded by
Alexandre Lamfalussy
2nd President of the European Monetary Institute
Merged into the European Central Bank
New institution 1st President of the European Central Bank
Succeeded by
Jean-Claude Trichet