There is, in these troubled days for the eurozone, arguably a hint of Ozymandias-in-reverse about the enormous new €1bn headquarters that the ECB is building for itself on the eastern edge of Frankfurt.
The risk is not so much that a traveller will one day find “two vast and trunkless legs of stone” in a desert, but rather a vast and shiny glass-and-steel tower block near the river Main with no one in it. At least that might be the suspicion of those who think the euro may not last long enough to see the moving vans arrive from the centre of town in 2014, where the ECB now has its offices.
It appears that ECB president Mario Draghi had better things to do this afternoon than turn up for the European Systemic Risk Board’s press conference.
As chair of the ESRB, Mr Draghi was widely expected to join vice-chairs, Sir Mervyn King and Andrea Enria, the head of the European Banking Authority, at today’s presser.
But instead Sir Mervyn was left to apologise to the journos present that they had been left with just him and Mr Enria.
Money Supply has been assured that there was nothing untoward behind Mr Draghi’s no-show. But it would be unthinkable that an ECB president would miss the press conference that follows the monthly governing council vote on monetary policy.
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Sir Mervyn King has twice of late attacked eurozone officials’ line on the region’s sovereign debt crisis, first at the inaugural Financial Policy Committee press briefing, then to parliament last Tuesday. On both occasions he trashed the view that the crisis was a problem of liquidity, not solvency, saying that unless officials accepted that sovereigns were broke, “we will never find an answer to it”.
He is not the only European central banker whose recent barbs have challenged the eurozone orthodoxy.
European economic policies will come under more scrutiny from this month when the European Central Bank takes the lead in a new financial police authority with whistle-blowing powers to prevent future crises.
The European systemic risk board (ESRB), chaired by Jean-Claude Trichet, ECB president, will have powers to issue warnings and recommendations when it sees threats to economies or financial systems. But it could have a tough time proving that such limited powers, wielded by European officials, can prevent financial market turmoil on the scale seen in the past three years.