Skip to Content
77 Mass Ave

Friends, Romans …

As Italy’s new prime minister, Mario Draghi, PhD ’77, will try to lead his country out of brutal economic and health crises.

April 27, 2021
Mario Draghi
Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

Italy’s prime minister lives in the Palazzo Chigi, an imposing structure with a direct view of one of Rome’s ancient treasures, the Column of Marcus Aurelius. Now, in 2021, the building’s new resident is an MIT graduate.

That would be Mario Draghi, PhD ’77, who in early February successfully formed a governing coalition after extensive negotiations with parties across Italy’s political spectrum. Draghi, 73, a native of Rome, is best known for his stellar turn as president of the European Central Bank from 2011 to 2019. Vowing to do “whatever it takes” to save the euro as a common currency, Draghi steered away from a strict commitment to austerity, instead cutting interest rates and developing debt-relief programs that helped a variety of European countries, including France, Italy, and Spain, vastly improve their fiscal outlooks. 

Draghi has a wealth of high-level governing experience: before becoming ECB president, he was governor of the Bank of Italy and, before that, director general of the Italian Treasury. All that success is built on a strong intellectual foundation. As an MIT doctoral student in economics, Draghi studied with Franco Modigliani, an Italian compatriot and Nobel laureate.

“Mario Draghi was a delight both as a student and as a person, and he was a great governor of the European Central Bank, often standing alone,” recalls Professor Robert Solow, who served as one of his informal graduate advisors at MIT (and is another Nobel laureate). “I wish him luck now—he will need it.”

As it happens, Draghi’s PhD dissertation addresses the trade-offs between short-term and long-term economic planning. That’s a subject he may find himself again immersed in soon, as he attempts to lead Italy out of a brutal recession and the covid-19 crisis at the same time. Turning Italy around won’t be easy; the Financial Times has called Draghi’s new task “Herculean.” Even if Draghi succeeds, he won’t be celebrated with a commemorative victory column—but this Roman could yet leave his own lasting mark on history. 

Keep Reading

Most Popular

This startup wants to copy you into an embryo for organ harvesting

With plans to create realistic synthetic embryos, grown in jars, Renewal Bio is on a journey to the horizon of science and ethics.

VR is as good as psychedelics at helping people reach transcendence

On key metrics, a VR experience elicited a response indistinguishable from subjects who took medium doses of LSD or magic mushrooms.

This nanoparticle could be the key to a universal covid vaccine

Ending the covid pandemic might well require a vaccine that protects against any new strains. Researchers may have found a strategy that will work.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.