by Marcus Walker, Charles Forelle and Brian Blackstone
Monday, 27 September 2010
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
LISBON—On May 6, top officials of the European Central Bank were sitting down to dinner with their spouses in the elegant Emperor’s Room of the Palacio da Bacalhoa, a 15th-century estate and winery south of the Portuguese capital, when stocks in New York began a terrifying slide.
The bankers’ BlackBerrys lit up with frantic notes. The euro was swooning. The Dow Jones Industrial Average had plummeted 1,000 points in the “Flash Crash.”
Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB’s president, feared that a fiscal mess in tiny Greece, which had consumed Europe for months, was now touching off another global financial crisis.
It was perhaps the worst of many stomach-churning moments that spring for Mr. Trichet, an urbane 67-year-old Frenchman known as “Mr. Euro” for devoting much of his 40-year career to building the common currency. It now seemed possible the panic could derail his life’s work.