Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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11/11/11: Mario Monti ’68Grd

“Senator for Life” sounds to us like a cushy semi-retirement post. But for Mario Monti ’68Grd—nominated to that position this week by Italy’s president—it’s a potential precursor to a lot of hard work and agita.

Monti, a 68-year-old economist and president of Milan’s Bocconi University, is considered the leading candidate to succeed Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi. With his nation in financial and political crisis, Berlusconi has promised to step down as soon the Parliament passes austerity measures demanded by the European Union.

That’s expected to happen this weekend, and Monti—himself a former EU commissioner—is seen as the probable leader of a technocratic national unity government.

“A respected economist considered to be above party politics,” Monti reportedly studied with Nobel Prize winner James Tobin at Yale (although he apparently didn’t complete his graduate degree here). As Europe’s competition commissioner in 2001, he won the nickname “Super Mario” for shooting down a proposed merger between General Electric and Honeywell.

But not everyone thinks Monti is ideally suited to bring Italy’s economy back from the brink. As an adviser to Goldman Sachs, one critic says, he is “part of what one can rightly refer to as a ‘financial mafia’ that wrecked the world economy since 2008.”

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