Germany’s financial fire-fighter steps back, but for how long?

Leaving the spotlight of the European Central Bank for a back-office position in a German ministry that pays a fraction of the salary might look at first glance like professional suicide for Joerg Asmussen. But the slim 47-year-old with the shaved head, at the center of German financial crisis-fighting efforts for over half a decade, may be hoping a strategic step backwards will set him up for bigger and better things down the line, possibly even the German finance ministry. “There’s no question, he’s got bigger plans,” said one veteran lawmaker from Asmussen’s Social Democrats (SPD). Asmussen’s announcement on Sunday that he would return to Berlin after just two years on the ECB’s six-member executive board was one of the big surprises of a weekend filled with personnel decisions for Angela Merkel’s new government, a “grand coalition” that includes the conservative chancellor’s center-left rival, the SPD.

    

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