"Within our mandate, the [European Central Bank] is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro. And believe me, it will be enough". With those three words delivered in London on 26 July 2012, Mario Draghi - the ECB's president from 2011-2019 - stopped a contagious collapse of Europe's common currency after just one decade.
Jana Randow and Alessandro Speciale write in Mario Draghi: The True Story of the Man Who Saved the Euro (Rizzoli, 2019): “So simple a phrase, delivered at the right time in front of the right audience, it will hang on as a warning to investors when Draghi is long gone that central bankers in Europe are ready to defend their currency against speculative attacks brought on by people not quite aware of their resolve".
Draghi, who went on to see Italy through the Covid pandemic as its prime minister from 2021-2022, has acquired mythical status. Who is he? What are the skills that allowed him to succeed where others may have failed? How did he manage the ECB's governing council in comparison to his French predecessor and successor?
Books from inside the ECB by Massimo Rostagno and Pedro Gustavo Teixeira have covered the policy-making history of the Draghi years but, so far, only Randow and Speciale have written a fly-on-the-wall account to match Bob Woodward's and David Wessel's books on the Federal Reserve. Jana Randow is Bloomberg’s senior European economics correspondent based in Frankfurt and Alessandro Speciale now heads Bloomberg's Zurich bureau after doing the same in Rome and working with Jana as ECB correspondent from 2013 until mid-2019.
*Jana's book recommendations are Rebel Radio: The Story of El Salvador's Radio Venceremos by José Ignacio López Vigil (Curbstone Press, 1995 - translated by Mark Fried) and Fabian, Die Geschichte eines Moralisten by Erich Kästner - first published in 1931 and translated by Cyrus Brooks as Going to the Dogs: The Story of a Moralist (NYRB Classics, 2013).
*Alessandro's book recommendations are The Magician by Colm Tóibín (Viking, 2021) and Magnificent Rebels: The First Romantics and the Invention of the Self by Andrea Wulf (John Murray, 2022).
Tim Gwynn Jones is an economic and political-risk analyst at Medley Advisors, who also writes the twenty4two newsletter on Substack and hosts the In The Room podcast series.
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