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The Limits of Lagarde

Mario Draghi deserves neither hostility nor adulation for his stewardship of the European Central Bank, where he proved adept at working within absurd constraints that forced him to do things that no central banker should ever do. What matters today is that his successor, Christine Lagarde, will have to labor within exactly the same ridiculous constraints.

ATHENS – Shortly after the Eurogroup meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on June 27, 2015, I bumped into a worried-looking Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank. “What on earth is Jeroen doing?” he asked me, referring to Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Eurogroup’s then-president. “Damaging Europe, Mario. Damaging Europe,” I replied. He nodded, looking concerned. We took the elevator to the ground floor and parted silently.