Mário Centeno

Portuguese politician and banker

Mário Centeno
2018 Finanzminister Löger bei Eurogruppe und ECOFIN (Mário Centeno).jpg
Mário Centeno in January 2018
Governor of the Bank of Portugal 22
Assumed office
20 July 2020
Preceded byCarlos Costa
President of the Eurogroup
In office
13 January 2018 – 13 July 2020
Preceded byJeroen Dijsselbloem
Succeeded byPaschal Donohoe
Minister of Finance
In office
26 November 2015 – 15 June 2020
Prime MinisterAntónio Costa
Preceded byMaria Luís Albuquerque
Succeeded byJoão Leão
Member of the Assembly of the Republic
for Lisbon
In office
23 October 2015 – 27 November 2015
Personal details
Mário José Gomes de Freitas Centeno

(1966-12-09) 9 December 1966 (age 55)
Olhão, Portugal
Political partySocialist Party[1]
EducationUniversity of Lisbon
Harvard University

Mário José Gomes de Freitas Centeno (born 9 December 1966) is a Portuguese economist, university professor, and politician. From 2015 to 2020, he was Minister of Finance of Portugal in the government cabinet of Prime Minister António Costa of the Portuguese Socialist Party (PS). He was the president of the Eurogroup and chairman of the board of Governors of the European Stability Mechanism from 2018 to 2020. Previously, he was a board member economist of the Bank of Portugal.[2] On 9 June 2020, he announced his resignation from the Ministry of Finance, effective 15 June.[3] On 16 July 2020, the Council of Ministers approved Centeno's nomination for the post of Governor of the Bank of Portugal, put forward by his successor as Finance minister, João Leão.[4] Centeno 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.[5]


Centeno, a native from Algarve region in southern mainland Portugal, was born in Olhão but was raised until his 15th anniversary in Vila Real de Santo António.[6] He 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.[7] Lawrence Katz was his adviser.[8]

Early career

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.[5]

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.[9]

Political career

Minister of Finance

After taking office as Finance Minister in 2015, Centeno enacted policies which reversed some austerity policies from the Portuguese government-debt crisis (2010–2014). The new post-crisis situation allowed him to authorize a public pensions' rise and improved wage payment to civil servants as a way to "increase households’ disposable income", while insisting that European Union's budget rules must be respected.[10] 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[11] and to remove Portugal from the group of countries subject to penalties for breaking the European Fiscal Compact.[12] By the end of 2017, national opinion polls placed Centeno as the best-known and best-liked minister.[13]

In November 2017, Centeno submitted his formal application for succeeding Jeroen Dijsselbloem as the next chairman of the Eurogroup.[14] 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,[15] he defeated Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg, Peter Kažimír of Slovakia and Dana Reizniece-Ozola of Latvia.[16] His election carried particular symbolic weight because he is from one of the countries hardest hit by the debt crisis.[17] He would serve a 2+12-year term,[18] 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[19] and the post went to Kristalina Georgieva instead.

Completely unknown to the public at the time he entered government as minister, Centeno had a reputation for economic liberalism in international academic circles because of his positions and research work in favour of greater labor market flexibility.[20] However, during is tenure as Portuguese minister of finance (2015-2020), decades-long rigidity and inefficiency issues of the Portuguese labor market remained an unresolved problem hampering the Portuguese economy while the deepening of economic liberal policies in accordance with his positions and academic theories weren't put in place in a country persistently criticized by institutions and organizations like the OECD, the IMF and the European Union for its anti-market, labor movement-inspired labor laws and rules which promote overstaffing and the misallocation of factors of production in general.[21][22][23][24]

In early 2020, the Parliament of Portugal followed Centeno's proposal and approved the country's first budget with a surplus in almost half a century[25] in spite of the number of civil servants has increased for a sixth straight year.[26][27] But an increasing deterioration of public services including in health, education and transportation infrastructure due to a lack of funding and government spending[28][29] was perceptible[30] while the country continued to fall behind in purchasing power and productivity in the context of the European Union,[31][32] a feature that was associated with the persistent misallocation of capital, labor and skills.[33] During Centeno's tenure as minister a record high tax burden was reached in Portugal.[34]


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.[35][36] On 26 January 2018, Centeno's office was searched by the Portuguese police.[35][36] On 1 February, prosecutors dropped the investigation, concluding there was "no crime of favoritism or any other (crime)" and that it has archived the case.[37]

Later career

In June 2020, the Portuguese government nominated Centeno as the next governor of the Bank of Portugal, succeeding Carlos da Silva Costa.[38]

Other activities

European Union organizations
International organizations
Non-profit organizations


  • 2001 – Young Economist Award of the European Economic Association (EEA)[45]
  • 2006 – Latin Union Award for Scientific Merit[45]

Personal life

Centeno was married to Maria Margarida Morgado, one of his university classmates from ISEG, and had three children with her. She died in 2022.[46]

As a student, Centeno played rugby for the economics faculty.[47] 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.[48]


  1. ^ "Mário Centeno: "Tenho a convicção que vamos aprovar todos os orçamentos da legislatura"".
  2. ^ Andrei Khalip (25 November 2015), Bank of Portugal economist Centeno named finance minister Reuters.
  3. ^ Almeida, São José (9 June 2020), João Leão substitui Mário Centeno como ministro das Finanças Público.
  4. ^ Alves, Maria Teixeira; Ataíde, Ânia (16 July 2020). "Oficial: Mário Centeno é o novo governador do Banco de Portugal". Jornal Económico. Retrieved 16 July 2020.
  5. ^ a b c Board of Governors: Mário Centeno European Stability Mechanism.
  6. ^ Silva, Hugo Tavares da. "Mário Centeno. Antes da fama". Observador (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  7. ^ "Log in | European Stability Mechanism".
  8. ^ "Past Ph.D. Students".
  9. ^ Andrei Khalip (25 November 2015), Bank of Portugal economist Centeno named finance minister Reuters.
  10. ^ Andrei Khalip and Sergio Goncalves (30 November 2017), Portugal's Centeno sees good chance of becoming Eurogroup head Reuters.
  11. ^ Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves (15 October 2019), Portugal's new cabinet list approved; Centeno keeps finance job Reuters.
  12. ^ Paul Wise (13 March 2017), Portugal calls on EU to note its return to fiscal health Financial Times.
  13. ^ Paul Ames (4 December 2017), How Eurogroup’s ‘Cristiano Ronaldo’ got to captain the team Politico Europe.
  14. ^ Jan Strupczewski (30 November 2017), Latvia, Luxembourg, Portugal, Slovakia bid for Eurogroup chair Reuters.
  15. ^ Pierre Briançon (4 December 2017), Let the great EU leadership contest begin Politico Europe.
  16. ^ Pan Pylas and Raf Casert (4 December 2017), Portugal's finance chief wins race for eurogroup president Chicago Tribune.
  17. ^ Jack Ewing (4 December 2017), Eurogroup, Looking Past Period of Crisis, Picks New Leader From Portugal New York Times.
  18. ^ Mehreen Khan and Jim Brunsden (4 December 2017), Portugal’s Centeno wins race to become eurogroup president Financial Times.
  19. ^ George Parker and Chris Giles (2 August 2019), Europe down to two candidates to replace Lagarde at IMF Financial Times.
  20. ^ Mario Centeno, the 'Ronaldo' of the eurozone Agence France-Presse, 4 December 2017.
  21. ^ ECO (3 January 2017). "OCDE propõe uma revolução no mercado de trabalho". ECO (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  22. ^ "Misallocation and productivity in the lead up to the Eurozone crisis | Banco de Portugal". www.bportugal.pt. Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  23. ^ "FMI sugere a Portugal aumento da flexibilização laboral". www.jn.pt (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  24. ^ Portugal, Rádio e Televisão de. "Bruxelas sugere a Portugal reformas estruturais do mercado de trabalho". Bruxelas sugere a Portugal reformas estruturais do mercado de trabalho (in Portuguese). Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  25. ^ Victoria Waldersee (8 January 2020), Portugal moves closer to securing budget surplus for 2020 Reuters.
  26. ^ Lusa, Agência. "Número de funcionários públicos aumenta em 2017 pelo terceiro ano consecutivo". Observador (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  27. ^ "Número de funcionários públicos subiu para mais de 700 mil em Portugal". www.jn.pt (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  28. ^ Martins, Nuno André. "Governo mantinha mais de mil milhões cativados no final de novembro". Observador (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  29. ^ "Assunção Cristas responsabiliza António Costa por "colapso dos serviços públicos"". www.dn.pt (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  30. ^ Antunes, José Manuel Oliveira. "Degradação dos serviços públicos: a cadeira vazia". Observador (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  31. ^ "Produtividade mais longe da média europeia e salário só sobe nos menos qualificados". www.dn.pt (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  32. ^ "Portugal foi ultrapassado por (mais) duas economias de leste em 2021 — Instituto +Liberdade". Mais Liberdade (in Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  33. ^ Pinheiro Alves, Ricardo (June 2017). "Portugal: a Paradox in Productivity". {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  34. ^ "Carga fiscal portuguesa bate novo máximo histórico no ano que vem". www.dn.pt (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 1 September 2022.
  35. ^ a b Paul Ames, "Police search offices of Eurogroup President Mário Centeno", Politico Europe, 27 January 2018. Updated 28 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  36. ^ a b Niels Posthumus, "Politie doet inval bij Portugese ministerie van Financiën" (in Dutch), NRC Handelsblad, 28 January 2018. Retrieved 28 January 2018.
  37. ^ Axel Bugge (1 February 2018), Portugal's finance minister cleared in soccer ticket probe Reuters.
  38. ^ Catarina Demony and Sergio Goncalves (25 June 2020), Portugal's government wants Centeno as central bank governor Reuters.
  39. ^ Board of Governors European Investment Bank (EIB).
  40. ^ AfDB Annual Report 2017 African Development Bank (AfDB).
  41. ^ Board of Governors European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
  42. ^ Board of Governors Archived 4 November 2018 at the Wayback Machine Inter-American Investment Corporation (IIC).
  43. ^ Board of Governors Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Bank Group.
  44. ^ Board of Governors World Bank.
  45. ^ a b c Mário Centeno Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  46. ^ "Morreu a mulher de Mário Centeno, Maria Margarida Morgado". www.sabado.pt (in European Portuguese). Retrieved 30 August 2022.
  47. ^ Mehreen Khan (5 December 2017), The Eurogroup’s revolution is on hold Financial Times.
  48. ^ Axel Bugge (4 December 2017), Centeno brings Portuguese charm to Eurogroup top job Reuters.

External links

  • Media related to Mário Centeno at Wikimedia Commons
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