WASHINGTON — Former European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet defended what he called the success of the eurozone since adopting a single currency in 1999.
Without minimizing the "enormous" debt problems the eurozone currently faces, Trichet stressed that 13 years after the euro was launched, it is the currency of 17 countries and 350 million people.
"Had I told you in 1998 that the euro would be set up in time and without technical problem, I guess 50 percent of the audience would have trusted me," he said on Thursday, at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think-tank.
He noted that the number of people who use the euro as their daily currency now surpasses the US population and that the eurozone has achieved "price stability."
Trichet was speaking before a panel of economists that included former US Federal Reserve chairmen Paul Volcker and Alan Greenspan, as well as ex-IMF chief John Lipsky.
Ever since the euro was launched on January 1, 1999, the GDP per capita growth rate stood at 0.8 percent in the eurozone and 0.6 percent in the United States, with net job creation of 14.5 million in the eurozone until December 31, compared to 8.5 million in the United States, Trichet said.
"I don't say that to be complacent," he added, acknowledging that "we have enormous problems" and the "sad privilege to be the epicenter" of the public debt crisis.
"But have that in mind... we are in an environment that is a little bit biased," Trichet added.
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