Oct. 19 - European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet has been farewelled at a ceremony in Frankfurt, as euro zone leaders come under more press as Spain is downgraded by ratings agency Moody's. Andrew Potter reports.
Europe has grown used to this face, and his monthly announcements. But in his time as head of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet has gone from setting interest rates, to helping fight both the global financial crisis and the European debt crisis. Now, after eight years he's leaving the job, and in Frankfurt leaders lined up to say goodbye. (SOUNDBITE) ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR, SAYING (German): "In spite of all of the turbulences we have been experiencing lately, we can say today the euro is has proved itself, it is stable. It is certainly as solid and sound as the Deutsche Mark was in the last decade of its existence and that this promise of stability still holds true today is due not least to Jean-Claude Trichet." Trichet's final comments, that the present needed immediate action, the future a sense of direction adding the ECB was in good shape. (SOUNDBITE) JEAN-CLAUDE-TRICHET, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK PRESIDENT, SAYING (English): "Whatever the future holds you can be sure that the ECB governing council will continue to be faithful to its primary mandate and that the ECB, together with the euro system, all the monetary team of Europe will continue to be an anchor of stability and confidence." The problems Trichet has spent the latter part of his presidency dealing with remain. European leaders meet again on October 23, and once again they're under pressure to expand a bailout fund for struggling members. That's not been helped by ratings agency Moody's decision to join others in downgrading Spain's sovereign debt rating by two notches. Moody's says Spain's high level of banking and corporate debt leave the country vulnerable. Juan Maria Concha is an economist in Madrid. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ECONOMIST JUAN MARIA CONCHA SAYING: "In the financial system the most important thing is not to have money, the most important is to gain the investors' confidence. If there are institutions like the rating agencies that make investors not trust you, things get very complicated. What will happen here is that the country's public debt will grow significantly." Trichet hasn't stood back in a time of crisis. But he's been criticised too, especially for taking the ECB outside its inflation-fighting mandate and into the deeply controversial area of government bond buying. Trichet will be replaced by Italian central bank governor Mario Draghi. He steps down at the end of the month. Andrew Potter, Reuters