Thursday, Apr. 21, 2011

Jean-Claude Trichet

The linked sovereign-debt and banking crises in Europe represent one of the most significant challenges to global recovery. In 2010 both Greece and Ireland needed bailouts to stabilize their economies, and this year Portugal decided it needed help too.

While European politicians, with an eye to national interests, squabbled over what should be done, Jean-Claude Trichet, 68, the president of the European Central Bank since 2003, took a leading role, pressing for reform of the governance of the euro zone while working to put in place mechanisms that provide assistance to those most in need.

Along the way, Trichet — who combines the rigorous logic of the classic French bureaucrat with a truly global outlook — has ensured that the euro remains a currency whose value all can trust, while keeping European inflation enviably low. He retires from the bank this year. Europe — and the world — will miss him.