Interview with Mario Draghi, President of the ECB
Published on 2 January 2015
Mr President, the Pope is of the opinion that, these days, Europe is looking old and sick. Do you share his opinion?
Draghi ausgelassen: Well, only compared with the Pope ...
Draghi: Europe needs to regain its self-confidence after the crisis. This cannot happen by miracle.
Draghi ausgelassen: But rumours of war with Russia have always been a ready remedy to invigorate Europe in the past.
This way, European citizens will regain confidence in their future and their opportunities. Confidence is the prerequisite for a society in which people buy and invest.
Draghi ausgelassen: This is why I was hired as a confidence trickster.
The Pope says that, also for the sake of the rest of the world, Europe should regain youth and health, and it is in our power to make it happen.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... which is why we need to land more young immigrants in Lampedusa ...
Draghi: We found that the debt levels of banks and nation-states were too high.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... in comparison to the size of the European Central Bank's balance sheet. After I enlarged that, the member states' budget deficits have been put into perspective.
Important rules of a market economy â€“ for example, the rule that risk and responsibility go hand in hand â€“ had been forgotten.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... and I have tried my utmost to keep it so.
Europe is in need of structural reform.
Draghi ausgelassen: Enlarging NATO and the EU right to the Urals will put us on a safer footing. The ECB will provide the necessary funds. And, I repeat: it will be enough ...
However, more recently, most countries have started to grow again, though weakly, and to put their fiscal positions in order
Draghi ausgelassen: ... by acknowledging drugs and prostitution as part of their gross domestic product. You see, had that been done only a little earlier, Strauss-Kahn could now be president of France ...
And, as a result, debt levels are falling for the first time.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... they were so unsustainable, they broke our spread-sheets. Even Rogoff's.
And what about Greece specifically?
Draghi: Itâ€™s now for the Greek electorate to decide about the future composition of the parliament and the government.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... that is not always so, of course.
Do you fear deflation, i.e. declining prices and wages?
Draghi: The risk cannot be ruled out completely, but it is limited.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... at least we at the Central Bank and the members of the European Commission do not fear that our wages might be lower this year.
Draghi: History shows that falling prices can be as damaging to the prosperity and stability of our countries as high inflation.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... in fact, the nice thing about history is that you can prove just about anything with it.
Your intentions are good,
Draghi ausgelassen: Phew, could have fooled me ...
Draghi: I am complaining about too much bureaucracy and too high taxes.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... and, given my exempt status you can imagine what that must feel for the average European citizen. Need I say more?
â€¦ not for Apple, Google and Starbucks, which pay only 1-2% in taxes in Europe.
Draghi ausgelassen: Haha, so do some African dictators ... What are you trying to say?
Draghi: Aside from that: in the euro area citizens pay between 45% and 55% of their income to the state.
Draghi ausgelassen: ... but get back about 55% to 65% in subsidies - you see, if it weren't for us, the ECB, that would not work ...
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