- Head of the shipping company HAPAG
- Reichskanzler from 1922 to 1923
- Not able to stop hyperinflation
Wilhelm Cuno’s first career was in administration. During World War I, he worked in the Reichsgetreidestelle (imperial cereals office) and with the German merchant fleet. In 1918, the ship-owner magnate Albert Ballin hired him to work for HAPAG. After Ballin’s suicide, Cuno succeeded him as General Director. His contacts in America helped him restructure HAPAG, making him sought after within the political arena. After Cuno had rejected several offers for ministerial posts, Friedrich Ebert appointed him Reichskanzler in 1922. The government was conservative and pursued economically liberal policies. Although it saw itself as non-partisan, it rested on the support of a majority in the Reichstag. When French troops occupied the Ruhr Valley in 1923, Cuno called for passive resistance, which nearly resulted in the state going bankrupt. In the end, Germany’s sky-rocketing inflation and domestic unrest forced him to step down. He subsequently withdrew from politics, tending to his business activities.