In politics it is a good idea to agree with ones bosses in public whatever your private opinion may be. Jean Claude Trichet, the President of the European Central Bank was just reminded of this basic law of political survival.
Yesterday, and for weeks before, he had been opposed to IMF involvement in the Greek debt saga. Early yesterday he was quoted as saying that giving the IMF a role was very, very bad. However, by the end of the day Mr. Trichet had become extraordinarily happy that governments had agreed on a Greek rescue plan. Not the exact opposite perhaps, but, pardon the expression, good enough for government work.
Part of Mr. Trichet's opposition is basic bureaucratic protectionism. In this he was joined by Vitor Constancio, the Vice president of the ECB and head of the Portuguese Central Bank, and Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, the executive arm of the European Union. Neither of these European bureaucrats wants to share power with the Washington based bureaucrats of the IMF.
Mr. Trichet's dislike of IMF involvement is also reflective of the traditional post war French approach to European politics. French leaders have preferred to work within European institutions where they have more influence, than through international ones, where the United States has tended to dominate.