”Mr. Borg wins praise for spotting early the need to strengthen the banks and tactfully explaining how Europe could learn from Sweden’s 1990s crisis in the sector. His economy also performed exceptionally well in 2011, at least partly thanks to past reforms and fiscal prudence. Financial markets took note,” the paper wrote.
The 19 ministers were graded on political ability, economic performance and credibility in the markets.
Borg’s opponent for the post of finance minister, Social Democrat economic policy spokesperson Tommy Waidelich, was not impressed by FT’s assessment of Borg, however.
“The competition was not very harsh, not in the least due to the Eurozone crisis. Sweden has good finances and that is something we can thank Göran Persson and former finance ministers for,” he told TT.
According to Waidelich, he would have been just as likely to have nabbed the top spot had he been finance minister of Sweden.
“I would think so, but the important thing is not to get a prize but to build a Sweden that is strong for the future,” he told TT.
In each category the 19 largest European Union economies – and their finance ministers – received a ranking between 1, which was the best, to 19, at the bottom of the scale.
FT also spoke to seven leading economists, who assessed the ministers on three criteria; their lucidity, or their understanding of events, their impact on the European stage and their effectiveness at home.
”By cutting through the analytical fog in many international gatherings, he [Borg] has increased his star quality,” said Erik Nielsen, chief economist at UniCredit Bank to FT.
Number two on the list was German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble, followed by Polish minister for finance Jacek Rostowski coming in at third place.
The ranking has been coloured by the Eurozone crisis and this is reflected by Greece and Italy finding themselves at the bottom of the list with Evangelos Venizelos at the 19th and last spot, and Italy’s Giulio Tremonti at 18th.
Anders Borg is pleased with his top spot but chose to tone down his own role and spoke instead of ”team efforts”.
”We have special circumstances. We are one of the countries where there is a strong backing for a prudent economic policy. In the end it is about having stable institutions and broad support for responsible policies. Then it is easier to be finance minister,” he told news agency TT.
The experts who spoke to FT felt that the European ministers’ handling of the crisis had overall left a lot to be desired.
Robert Bergqvist, chief economist of Swedish bank SEB in Stockholm, told FT that he had awarded lower scores to the ministers this year due to their ”lack of understanding of – and naive attitude to – key problems, weak individual and collective decision-making powers and uncoordinated communication during the worst economic circumstances since the 1930s.”