Benoit “Braveheart”

The WSJ reports:

Central bankers have come in for a lot of criticism over their handling of the financial crisis and its aftermath, and in particular have been accused of indifference towards the fate of the poor, while adopting policies that make the rich richer.

They rarely respond to those criticisms, or engage with their critics. It’s therefore  noteworthy that Benoît Cœuré, a member of the European Central Bank’s six-person executive board, sat down for a joint interview with two activists from a protest group that has staged a series of demonstrations against the institution he works for, and is planning more. The interview was published in Germany’s Sueddeutsche Zeitung over the weekend.

The two protesters were particularly critical of the ECB’s involvement in the Troika – the group comprised of the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and ECB that administers bailout programs in troubled euro-zone countries. The Troika has come under intense criticism for demanding too many cuts to public services.

“In Spain, 400,000 people have been driven out of their homes; in Greece, almost one-third of the population no longer has access to the healthcare system and 40% of its people are poor. All of this is clearly linked to the Troika’s policy,” said activist Werner Rätz.

Mr. Coeure responded by saying that since 2007 the ECB has taken decisions with the intent of supporting economic growth(!) and restoring price stability(!).[with growth almost “lifeless” and inflation “falling off the charts”, the ECB´s “intent” was just that]

“This has shielded a great number of European citizens from poverty,” he said.

He didn’t apologize for austerity measures required by the Troika.

“We believe it was in the interests of everyone to recommend these measures, including to maximize the effect of our monetary policy decisions,” he said. “We stand by that.” [Translation: Otherwise monetary policy would have been even tighter!]

B Braveheart

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