Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012

Angela Merkel

Age: 57
Occupation: German Chancellor

Alternately called a tough but visionary savior of the euro and a psycho-rigid austerity hound bent on turning the entire European Union into a supersized Germany, Merkel proved invaluable to efforts keeping the euro zone intact. Balancing demands for frugality with well-timed compromise, Merkel was vital to debt-relief agreements that averted the euro's implosion and avoided European financial anarchy that would have been ruinous to the global economy. In the process, she made herself — and Germany — the undisputed leader among European Union peers.