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Trichet’s balancing act

The president of the European Central Bank is at the centre of the global financial storm. He knows his actions are crucial to the survival of the entire global financial system. He gives his most in-depth interview since the collapse of Lehman Brothers to Clive Horwood and Mark Johnson.

‘Banks will not forget that their job is to lend’

‘Let’s stick to the rules’

Jean-Claude Trichet, The president of the European Central Bank

THE INTERVIEW TAKES place in Jean-Claude Trichet’s 35th-floor office in the Eurotower. While the view of a cold, grey, seemingly deserted Frankfurt is expansive, the office itself is remarkably austere. A George Soros volume figures prominently on a row of bookshelves evidently stacked for reading, not display. A bank of six telephones on a conference table connects him to the other key players in the unfolding drama of the past year or so.

The only touch of luxury is a framed late-Renaissance map of Europe that, as Trichet points out with amusement, has Ireland and England as one political entity. He smiles when Euromoney points out to him that the map also encompasses such countries as Iceland, once ruggedly independent, now perhaps seeking the frowzy warmth of the eurozone.

Trichet is dressed in his trademark suit with sweater beneath it – a sartorial touch which, allied with his thoughtful demeanour, makes him appear like a college professor. And, indeed, there is much of the academic about him, despite his long years treading the corridors of power.

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