How ‘vision’ messed up Europe

Today the European project consists of trying to digest the euro.

One gloomy February evening in 1998 I was writing the FT’s currency market report. Nothing had happened that day, and I was 150 words short. In desperation, I leafed through the pile of bank faxes buried under the fax machine. I found one from Goldman Sachs that quoted their economist Jim O’Neill savaging the humble Greek drachma. O’Neill was the god of the currency market so I stuck his pronouncements at the end of my column and went home. The lowest-paid journalist in the building didn’t stay late.

Like most people in the market, I then forgot the drachma again. But, some days later, I noticed that it was under sustained attack. The Greek central bank blamed my article. The attacks continued. One Friday that March, Greece suddenly decided to join the European Exchange Rate Mechanism — the entry gate to the euro. Traders were astonished. True, recent Greek official economic stats had shown mysterious improvements but Greece still met none of the criteria for joining the currency. Regardless, in 2001 Greece joined. I sometimes imagine the headline over my obituary: “Helped get Greece into euro.”

Lees verder op The Financial Times >>>