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Hans Tietmeyer, forefather of the euro, dies aged 85

Hans Tietmeyer held a major leadership role in two of Germany's most important transitions in recent memory: Reunification and the introduction of the euro currency. His passing has been confirmed by the central bank.

Tietmeyer was in charge of the Bundesbank in the aftermath of German reunification until after the launch of the single European currency to world financial markets in January 1999.

Credited with establishing independence and price stability as a key pillar of the European Central Bank, he believed that member countries had to do their share to maintain competitiveness and sustainable growth. Europe's central bank was modeled in large part on the Bundesbank and also based in Frankfurt.

"Hans Tietmeyer was an outstanding president, who always acted with the goal of monetary stability in mind," current Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann said in a statement on Wednesday. "Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family."

Foretold eurozone crisis

In the run-up to the economic and monetary union, Tietmeyer warned repeatedly that countries joining would face painful adjustments if the project were to work. He said that some member states had to show greater budgetary discipline to avoid a future debt crisis.

"Without adequate prior economic convergence, the path toward monetary union is hugely risky," he said in Die Welt newspaper in December 1991.

His warnings have been repeated by many financial analysts since the beginning of the eurozone crisis, which started in 2009.

Before joining the Bundesbank, Tietmeyer was a junior finance minister and served as an advisor to former Chancellor Helmut Kohl.

Murder attempt

During his tenure as Bundesbank president, his tough policies made him a target for left-wing extremists.

He survived an assassination attempt in 1988, claimed by the Red Army Faction, due to his assailant's gun jamming. But 10 bullet holes were later found in his car.

After stepping hown, Tietmeyer remained one of the foremost experts on the finances of the European Union.

The euro was first introduced as an accounting currency in 1999 but physical coins and banknotes didn't enter circulation for another three years.

mm/kms (AFP, AP, Reuters)