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Willem Frederik "Wim" Duisenberg (9 July 1935 - 31 July 2005) was a Dutchmarker Politician, Economist and Financier. He was first President of the European Central Bank from 1998 until 2003, and was instrumental in the Introduction of the euro in the European Union in 2002. He was also credited for making numeral improvements for the Economy of the Netherlands.


Early life

Duisenberg was born in the Frisian town of Heerenveenmarker.He studied economics at the University of Groningen, majoring in international economic relations. In 1965, he obtained a Ph.D.; his thesis was "The Economic Consequences of the Disarmament".


Duisenberg subsequently worked for the International Monetary Fundmarker in Washingtonmarker for years followed by a year as an advisor to the director of the Nederlandsche Bankmarker, the Dutch central bank in Amsterdammarker. He was then appointed a professor at the University of Amsterdammarker 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 Rabobankmarker, 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

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 Frankfurtmarker, 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 Francemarker, would take over. In 1999, Duisenberg received the Vision for Europe Award in recognition of his efforts toward the unification of Europe.

Duisenberg announced he would retire on 9 July 2003, (his 68th 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 vacationing at his villa in Fauconmarker near Orangemarker, France. He drowned in his swimming pool after suffering a heart attack, a condition which may well also have been caused by his chain smoking.

A commemoration service was held on 6 August 2005 in the Amsterdam Concertgebouwmarker. Duisenberg was buried later that day in the Zorgvlied cemetery in Amsterdam.


He was also a member of Vindicatmarker student society.


  • "Central Bankers are like cream. The more you whip them, the stiffer they get."
  • "I hear you, but I do not listen." A response to politicians who loudly pledged for lowering interest rates to boost economy.

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