April 2013: Jeroen’s juggling

When Roel Janssen, our veteran Advisory Board member in Amsterdam, portrayed Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the new Dutch finance minister, in the February OMFIF
bulletin, he spoke of a ‘baptism of fire’ for the freshly-anointed chairman of the Eurogroup of euro area finance ministers. No one could have foreseen that, in addition to presiding over the nationalisation of SNS Reaal, the fourth largest Dutch bank, Dijsselbloem would shortly afterwards become a major player in a clumsy rescue of the Cypriot banking system that sent a frisson around Europe. This has been a verbal and political juggling act of the first order. Soon after completing the package deal for a combined €17bn Cyprus bail-out / bail-in, Dijsselbloem gave an interview saying that in future depositors, perhaps even insured ones, would have to join contributions to repair failed banks. Many, including (somewhat disingenuously) Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central bank, have claimed that Dijsselbloem’s remarks were misunderstood.

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