Learn more about Wim Duisenberg
|Vice President:|| Christian Noyer|
|Term of office:||June 1, 1998 – October 31, 2003|
|Succeeded by:||Jean-Claude Trichet|
Willem Frederik Duisenberg, commonly known as Wim Duisenberg, (July 9, 1935 – July 31, 2005) was a Dutch banker and politician. The first president of the European Central Bank (1998 – 2003), he was instrumental in the introduction of the euro in twelve European countries in 2002.
 Early life
Duisenberg was born in the Frisian town of Heerenveen. He studied economics at the University of Groningen, majoring in international economic relations. In 1965, he obtained a Ph.D.; his thesis was "The Economical Consequences of Disarmament".
Duisenberg subsequently worked for the International Monetary Fund in Washington 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 private 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 closely 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 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.
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 November 1 2003.
Duisenberg died in 2005 at the age of 70 while vacationing at his villa in Faucon near Orange, France. He drowned in his swimming pool (or died immediately upon leaving it, according to other reports) after suffering a heart attack.
- Duisenberg was married to the controversial political activist Gretta Duisenberg. She created a furor when she announced a plan to collect six million signatures in protest of Israeli policies in the Occupied Territories (the figure is thought to have been an allusion to the number of Jewish victims of World War II).
- Duisenberg was known to be a chain smoker. As he died from a heart attack it is speculated that this condition could have been fatal to him.
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