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>> The euro is turning 20. For some, the very fact that it's lasted this long at all is a surprise. But after two decades, is it too early to call the euro a success or a failure? I'm financial markets correspondent at Reuters in London, Jamie McGeever. On balance, and it's been a tumultuous 20 years, the euro has been a success.
It has established itself quite unquestionably as the world's second-most important currency. Before the euro was launched, of course, each country had its own interest rates and its own currency of course. But those interest rates varied wildly, from Greece, Italy, and Spain in the so-called periphery, high borrowing cost, compared to France and Germany and the Netherlands, the so-called core Eurozone.
Over the course of the 20 years, 1 trillion euros has been saved by Italy alone in debt servicing cost, according to estimates. Germany, the Eurozone's powerhouse, has also saved hundreds of billions of euros. You add that all together, huge, huge savings for those countries. The Eurozone fell into financial crisis in 2010 through to 2012.
And it wasn't until Mario Draghi gave his now-famous and landmark speech here in London on July 26th, 2012, when he said the ECB would do,>> Whatever it takes.>> To save the euro. Now those three unscripted, unplanned words ultimately saved the euro. And since then, the ECB has shown a far greater degree of flexibility and ingenuity and thinking in terms of policy making.
Negative interest rates, 2.5 trillion euros of quantitative easing, nobody would ever have thought those things possible way back in 2008, far less in 1999. It's not without its criticisms and flaws. One size fits all in terms of monetary policy is simply, well, challenging to say the least. Interest rates for Germany are not what are required for Greece, for example, but the project rolls on.
And if the European Central Bank and the euro can survive 2008 and 2011 and 2012, one has to think it can pretty much survive almost anything.