Quick name the chief executive who was asked to serve as the opening speaker at the ultra-exclusive Davos/Klosters (World Economic Forum) powerfest last week?

And while you’re at it, ask yourself who has more to say about an entire continent’s economy, common currency and way of life than any other chief executive?

Could this be the same chief executive that oversees the fifth most powerful economy in the world with a 5.5 percent unemployment rate (the lowest jobless rate for this particular nation in two decades) and a Standard & Poors AAA bond rating (certainly nothing to be sneezed at in this economy…Gesundheit)?

The answer to this question ist Deutschland’s Kanzlerin Angela Merkel. This brings to mind the next question: Is this “skirt” the most influential chief executive in the developed world (didn’t say the most powerful) eclipsing all of those that compete in blue “suits,” white shirts and power ties? One could certainly make this argument, maybe for the first time since the Earth cooled.


This week’s Economist and many other internationally oriented publications have focused even greater attention with each succeeding week on Chancellor Merkel. This week, the Economist proclaimed in a headline, “Merkel at the Top.” She may have to humbly concur with that conclusion as she was delivering the Davos keynote at a snowy Swiss mountain resort.

By entering into this discussion, I am not neglecting the obvious competing influence on this side of the Atlantic. There is no doubt that Mark Zuckerberg and his 800 million subscribers (third largest “country” in the world) deserves his due recognition…Does he ever wear a suit? Today, Zuckerberg’s Facebook (future ticker symbol, “FB”) issued its SEC mandated S-1 filing setting in motion the most long-awaited IPO since the formation of the Holy Roman Empire. But does a reported $10 billion market capitalized IPO translate into long-term influence?

Merkel’s Germany has already gone public (about 900 years ago), so it holds no sway over competing underwriters let alone warring stock exchanges all vying for the prestige of listing a high-visibility stock. Zuckerberg wins that competition in a nanosecond.


At the same time one might ask: Does Zuckerberg directly influence the economic fate of 500 million Europeans and the future of a common currency?. He may be personally XX times wealthier than Merkel, but he does not hold the balance of an entire continent in his hands, no matter how well he understands social media software algorithms.

Some may conclude that I have overlooked the present occupant of that white house on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC. Perish the thought. The power of the presidency is the presidency. Having said that, President Obama would be getting his knickers in a twist to be able to run for re-election based upon a AAA bond rating, low unemployment rate, decreasing budget deficit and increasing economic growth. He has none of these cards to play, but Merkel does…maybe that is why she is running 12 points ahead of her nearest competitor, Peer Steinbruck of the Social Democrats.

What is particularly noteworthy about the former physicist, who grew up on the wrong side of the Wall, is that she is not a horn blower. The Europeans seem to hold as many summits as the Republicans stage debates, and yet Merkel’s steady style seems suited (skirted?) for these gatherings.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy (like Obama , facing a tough re-elect) has been forced to accept the junior partner role to Merkel, ironically the Chancellor from the “Fatherland.” As Charlemagne wrote in The Economist, “It is an old tenet of European politics that the Franco-German partnership is necessary to disguise German strength and French weakness.”

Republican frontrunner Mitt Romney has criticized Obama stating that the president wants to convert America into a European-style social welfare state. Emulating basket case Europe is not a pleasant vision, but duplicating Germany’s economic accomplishments under Merkel looks mighty inviting right about now.