|President of the Eurogroup|
13 January 2018
|Minister of Finance|
26 November 2015
|Maria Luís Albuquerque|
|Member of the Assembly of the Republic|
23 October 2015 - 27 November 2015
Mário José Gomes de Freitas Centeno
9 December 1966
|Political party||Socialist Party|
|Education||University of Lisbon|
Mário José Gomes de Freitas Centeno (born 9 December 1966) is a Portuguese economist, university professor, and politician. Since 2015, he has been Minister of Finance in the government of Prime Minister António Costa of Portugal. Since 2018, he has been president of the Eurogroup and Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism. Previously, he was a board member economist of the Bank of Portugal.
Centeno studied economics at University of Lisbon, faculty of Economics and Business Management (ISEG-ULISBOA), graduating in 1990. He earned a master's degree in applied mathematics from ISEG-ULISBOA in 1993, a master's degree in economics from Harvard University that he completed in 1998, and he was awarded a PhD in economics by Harvard University in 2000.Lawrence Katz was his adviser.
An expert on labour market issues, Centeno joined the Banco de Portugal (Central Bank of Portugal) in 2000, where he worked as an economist until 2004. He was member of the Executive Committee of European Association of Labor Economists (EALE) from 2003 to 2005. From 2004 to 2013 he was assistant director of the Central Bank Economics' Department. He was member of the Economic Policy Committee of the European Commission between 2004 and 2013. He also directed the Macroeconomics Statistics Development's work group in the Superior Statistics Council (CSE) between 2007 and 2013.
From 2014, Centeno was Professor at ISEG, University of Lisbon, and worked as a consultant to the Central Bank of Portugal. In addition, he served as the main economic policy advisor to Socialist leader António Costa, coordinating the Socialist economic programme before the 2015 legislative elections.
Completely unknown to the public at the time he entered government, Centeno had a reputation for economic liberalism in academic circles because of his positions in favour of greater labour market flexibility. He is the author or co-author of several scientific publications, books and book chapters related to his areas of interest, such as labour economics, econometrics, microeconomics and contract theory.
Since taking office as Finance Minister, Centeno has enacted policies which reversed some austerity policies from the debt crisis, such as raising public pensions and wages to increase households' disposable income, while insisting that European budget rules must be respected. Early in his tenure, he urged the EU to acknowledge the scale of Portugal's economic turnround as the country headed towards its lowest fiscal deficit in more than 40 years and to remove Portugal from the group of countries subject to penalties for breaking the European Fiscal Compact. By the end of 2017, national opinion polls placed Centeno as the best-known and best-liked minister.
In November 2017, Centeno submitted his formal application for succeeding Jeroen Dijsselbloem as the next chairman of the Eurogroup. On 4 December 2017, he was elected President of the Eurogroup, incumbent from 13 January 2018. Reportedly favored by an informal agreement between French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, he defeated Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg, Peter Ka?imír of Slovakia and Dana Reizniece-Ozola of Latvia. His election carried particular symbolic weight because he is from one of the countries hardest hit by the debt crisis. He will serve a two-and-a-half year term, which is renewable. On 21 December 2017, he was appointed as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism, effective from 13 January 2018.
Following the resignation of Christine Lagarde as managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2019, Centeno was one of the candidates considered by European governments as potential successor; he withdrew his candidacy shortly after and the post went to Kristalina Georgieva instead.
In early 2018, Centeno was being investigated for allegedly accepting S.L. Benfica tickets in exchange for a favourable tax treatment for a real-estate company owned by the son of Benfica president Luís Filipe Vieira. On 26 January 2018, Centeno's office was searched by the Portuguese police. On February 1, prosecutors dropped the investigation, concluding there was "no crime of favoritism or any other (crime)" and that it has archived the case.
As a student, Centeno played rugby for the economics faculty. He is a keen soccer enthusiast and supports Lisbon club Benfica. He wore a Portugal soccer scarf to the first Eurogroup meeting after his country won the European championship in 2016.