In 1993, Jacques Attali, former president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (1991-1993), held the first Europe Lecture. He was introduced by Wim Duisenberg, former president of the European Central Bank (1998-2003). The theme of this lecture was 'the costs of European reconstruction'.
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Jacques Attali was advisor to French president Mitterrand during the eighties, and founded and led the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development early nineties. He then set up his own company in strategic consulting that specialises in corporate finance and venture capital. Prior to his public career he taught economics at university. Troughout his career Jacques Attali was and remains heavily involved with non-governmental organisations that combat poverty in the world.
Jacques Attali graduated at four of France's prestigious écoles. Attali is a prolific writer and essayist. Besides numerous works on politics and economy his body of work includes novels and plays. Twice in his career Jacques Attali became embroiled in investigations; once on mismanagement and once regarding possible tax evasion. In both cases he was exhonorated of all charges.
"I hope not to disappoint you after so many flowers. I must say that I am very happy to be in this country, where the market economy and democracy were practically founded; which demonstrates that tolerance, diversity and openness are keywords of civilisation and key lessons Europe can give to the world at a moment when Europe can also be seen as a place where barbarism is being reborn.
‘Destroy the greater part of a nation’s fixed capital... and dislocate the whole economic structure. Eventual recovery from this chaotic state of affairs will be rapid, giving a growth rate of 8 to 10% annually.’
Milton Friedman’s comment in the 1960s, in relation to Japan, might at first sight seem relevant to post-Communist Eastern Europe today. There has, after all, been wholesale economic dislocation since 1989. National production has been severely curtailed. Trade has collapsed. And – in some countries – there is even evidence that growth could now rebound."