Central bankers never criticise each other in public. It’s an iron rule of global finance. And so it proved last weekend when EU finance ministers and central bankers gathered in the sunny Portuguese city of Porto.
Jean-Claude Trichet, the European Central Bank president, was offered the chance at a news conference to have a dig at Mervyn King, his Bank of England counterpart. The UK central bank had just agreed to provide emergency funds to Northern Rock, the beleaguered bank and mortgage lender. Only a few days earlier, King had made a hard-hitting speech that ruled out special assistance to institutions and investors that might be nursing losses because of risky activities.