In the 1990s, selling the Germans on the euro was hard. Even if they vaguely liked the idea of Europe’s “ever closer union,” they loved their D-Mark even more. That’s because they trusted Germany’s arch-conservative central bank. As Jacques Delors, a Frenchman and former president of the European Commission, once put it: “Not all Germans believe in God, but they all believe in the Bundesbank.”
This pre-history casts a long shadow over Christine Lagarde, also French, as she prepares to take over in November from Mario Draghi as president of the European Central Bank. Her problem is that the Germans, along with some allies, philosophically oppose central tenets of the monetary stimulus that Draghi has pushed, and that Lagarde may have to push further.