Constantin Mugur Isărescu ([ˈmuɡur isəˈresku]; born 1 August 1949) is the Governor of the National Bank of Romania, a position he held since September 1990, with the exception of an eleven months period (22 December 1999 to 28 November 2000), during which he served as Prime Minister of Romania. He is a member of the Romanian Academy.
Isărescu was born in Drăgăşani, Vâlcea County. His father was a school teacher who, after the establishment of the socialist state, studied at the Academy of Economic Studies in Bucharest, worked as a bank executive during the 1950s and then he was a professor of accounting for 20 years.
Isărescu studied international trade at the Academy of Economic Studies of Bucharest, which he graduated in 1971 and where he was an assistant professor between 1975 and 1989. In 1989, Isărescu defended his PhD thesis on exchange rate policies under the supervision of Costin Kirițescu.
For 19 years, he worked as a researcher for the Institute of International Economics, an institute that was mostly like controlled by the Securitate. He took a number of courses in the United States, writing several papers on capitalist economics. Isărescu claims it was as if he prepared for 20 years for the 1990 moment.
In February 1990, after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, he began working for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In March 1990, he was sent to work as an economic and monetary affairs secretary at the Romanian Embassy in the United States, being in charge of handling Romania's relations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
He expected that Romania would need IMF help within a couple of years, but he was surprised to find that the government depleted the foreign-exchange reserves within six months and, as such, he was recalled to Romania in July 1990 to head the National Bank.
In September 1990 he was named Governor of the National Bank of Romania by the Romanian government. During the early years, he negotiated several agreements with the International Monetary Fund. His mandate was renewed by the Romanian Parliament in 1991, 1998, 2004 and 2009.
Isărescu managed in 15 years of leadership at the National Bank of Romania to create and maintain a mysterious aura around the policies of the National Bank, and many pointed out that the agenda of the Bank remained independent from any Romanian Government. Many credit the National Bank team for saving Romania's economy from a Bulgarian-type collapse, raising the national gold and Euro reserves beyond needs, cutting down inflation to single-digit figures and introducing the New Leu.
In 2009, World Records Academy named him as the longest-serving governor of a central bank.
In 1999, he was asked to become Prime Minister of Romania, which he accepted on the condition that he could return to the National Bank after it was over. Then-President Emil Constantinescu agreed with the terms and on 16 December 1999 Isărescu was sworn in as Prime Minister of Romania, but only for about a year, since in November 2000, the ruling coalition lost the elections.
In November 2000 Isărescu ran for President of Romania but was soundly defeated, coming in fourth place and receiving 9% of the vote.
Thereafter, he returned to the National Bank of Romania for another term as governor.
Although he served only one year as Prime Minister, Isărescu is considered to have started the reform process, continued later by Adrian Năstase and Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu. During his premiership, on February 15, 2000, Romania formally initiated negotiations with the European Union (a process started by the Romanian application in 1995 and European Commission approval on October 13, 1999). As governor of the National Bank of Romania, Mugur Isărescu has coordinated Romania's economic policy since 1990, being considered by some the hidden prime minister of the country.
He is a member of the Club of Rome, the Trilateral Commission and a Grand Cross and Sash ranks of the Order of the Star of Romania recipient.
He was considered several times between 2009 and 2012 as a suitable replacement for Emil Boc as Prime Minister of Romania. Isărescu declined the offer from President Băsescu, refusing to re-assume his former office in order to remain Governor of BNR. Romanian Royal Family: Honorary Knight Commander of the Order of the Crown