Jacques Attali

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Jacques Attali
Jacques Attali.jpg
Jacques Attali
Born (1943-11-01) 1 November 1943 (age 72)
Algiers, French Algeria
Nationality French
Alma mater École Polytechnique
École des Mines
Sciences Po
École nationale d'administration
Paris Dauphine University
Occupation Economist, writer, senior civil servant

Jacques Attali (French: [ʒak atali]; born 1 November 1943) is a French economic and social theorist, writer, political adviser and senior civil servant, who served as a counselor to President François Mitterrand from 1981 to 1991 and was the first head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in 1991-1993. In 1997, upon the request of education minister Claude Allègre, he proposed a reform of the higher education degrees system. In 2008-2010, he led the government committee on how to ignite the growth of the French economy, under President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Attali co-founded the European program EUREKA, dedicated to the development of new technologies. He also founded the non-profit organization PlaNet Finance and is the head of Attali & Associates (A&A), an international consultancy firm on strategy, corporate finance and venture capital. Interested in the arts, he has been nominated to serve on the board of the Musée d’Orsay. He has published more than fifty books, including Noise: The Political Economy of Music (1985), Labyrinth in Culture and Society: Pathways to Wisdom (1999), and A Brief History of the Future (2006).

In 2009, Foreign Policy recognized him as one of the top 100 "global thinkers" in the world.[1]

Early life[edit]

Jacques Attali was born on 1 November 1943 in Algiers (Algeria), with his twin brother Bernard Attali, in a Jewish family . His father, Simon Attali, is a self-educated person who achieved success in perfumery ("Bib et Bab" shop) in Algiers. He married to Fernande Abécassis on 27 January 1943. On 11 February 1954, his mother gave birth to his sister, Fabienne. In 1956, two years after the beginning of the Algerian independence war (1954–1962), his father decided to move to Paris, with his family (Jacques was then 13).

Jacques and Bernard studied at the Lycée Janson-de-Sailly, in the 16th arrondissement, where they met Jean-Louis Bianco and Laurent Fabius. In 1966, Jacques graduated from the École polytechnique (first of the class of 1963). He also graduated from the École des mines, Sciences Po and the École nationale d'administration (third of the class of 1970).

In 1968, while doing an internship at the prefecture of a French department (Nièvre), he met for the second time with François Mitterrand, then President of the department, whom he had met for the first time three years before.

in 1972, Jacques Attali received a Ph.D. in economics from University Paris Dauphine, for a thesis written under the supervision of Alain Cotta. Michel Serres was among the jury of his Ph.D.

In 1970, when he was 27, he became a member of the Council of State. In 1972, aged 29, he published his first two books, Analyse économique de la vie politique and Modèles politiques, for which he was awarded with a prize from the Academy of Sciences.

Academic career[edit]

Jacques Attali taught economics from 1968 to 1985 at the Paris Dauphine University, at the École polytechnique and at the École des Ponts et chaussées.

In his laboratory in Dauphine, the IRIS, he gathered several young researchers Yves Stourdzé (who ran the European research program EUREKA co-founded by Jacques Attali), Jean-Hervé Lorenzi, and Érik Orsenna, but also leading figures in various fields (including journalism, mathematics, show business, financial analysis).

Political career[edit]

Jacques Attali's close collaboration with François Mitterrand started in December 1973. His directed his political campaign for the presidential elections in 1974. He then became his main chief of staff in the opposition.In 1981, François Mitterrand, after he was elected President, named him as his special adviser. From this moment on, Jacques Attali wrote, each evening, notes for the attention of the French President, which dealt with economics, culture, politics or the last book he read. He also attended all the Cabinet meetings, the Defense Council, and all bilateral meetings between President François Mitterrand and foreign heads of States and governments. The President also entrusted him with the role of "sherpa" (personal representative of a head of State) for the European and G7 summits.

Jacques Attali then enlarged his circle of acquaintances to Raymond Barre, Jacques Delors, Philippe Séguin, Jean-Luc Lagardère, Antoine Riboud, Michel Serres, Coluche. He advised the President to get Jean-Louis Bianco, Alain Boublil and several young, promising graduates from the École nationale d’administration (like François Hollande and Ségolène Royal) to join his team.

In 1982, he pleaded for "economic rigour". As "sherpa" of Mitterrand during 10 years, he organised the Versailles G7 summit in 1982 and the G7 Summit of the Arch in 1989. He took an active part in the organization of the celebrations for the bicentenary of the French Revolution on July, 14th 1989.

In 1997, upon the request of Claude Allègre, he proposed a reform of the tertiary education degree system which led to the implementation of the LMD model.

In 2008 and 2010, he was asked by then President Nicolas Sarkozy to chair a bipartisan commission aiming at proposing reforms to foster French economic growth. In 2013, Jacques Attali advocated the concept of positive economy in a report delivered to President François Hollande at his request. His ideas inspired some of the provisions of the law proposed by Emmanuel Macron, Minister of Economy.

On 7 April 2011, in Washington, D.C., the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the United States’ Smithsonian Institution presented the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service to Jacques Attali, founder and president of PlaNet Finance.

International career[edit]

In 1979, he imagined and founded the international NGO Action contre la Faim (ACF).

In 1984, he imagined and implemented the European program EUREKA, dedicated to the "development of new technologies", the direction of which he entrusted to Yves Stourdzé.

In 1989, he initiated a vast international plan of action against the disastrous flooding in Bangladesh.

In 1990, during François Mitterrand’s second mandate, Jacques Attali gave up politics and left the Elysée Palace. He founded the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in London, and became its first President. He had initiated the idea of this institution in June 1989, before the fall of the Berlin wall, in order to support the reconstruction of Eastern European countries. He chaired the Paris negotiating conference which led to the creation of the EBRD. Under his leadership of its President, the EBRD promoted investments which aimed at protecting nuclear power plants, protecting the environment and, more generally, developing infrastructure, reinforcing private sector competitiveness and support transition to democracy.

In 1991, Jacques Attali invited Mikhail Gorbachev to the EBRD headquarters, in London, against the opinion of British Prime minister John Major. By doing so, he compelled the heads of State of the G7, who were attending a summit in this town, to receive the Soviet head of State. After a stormy phone call between Jacques Attali and John Major, the British press started to criticize the President of the EBRD and spread suspicions about the management of the institution. Uncontested details of the management of the EBRD - including of inefficiency and profligacy - were shocking. Some of these details were taken up by some French journalists. Jacques Attali explains his stance in a chapter of his book C’était François Mitterrand, entitled "Verbatim and the EBRD" : "the work in question had been done under the supervision of an international working group to which I did not belong." Indeed, when Jacques Attali left, voluntarily, the EBRD, the board of governors gave him final discharge for the management of the institution. However, his reputation never recovered.

In 1993, Jacques Attali won a libel suit; he had been accused of having reproduced in his book verbatim, without François Mitterrand’s authorization, secret archives and several sentences of the French head of State which were meant for another book. The Herald Tribune even published, on the front page, an article claiming (wrongly) that President Mitterrand had asked for the book to be withdrawn from selling. François Mitterrand confirmed in a long interview that he had asked Jacques Attali to write this book, and acknowledged that he had proofread it and had been given the possibility to make corrections.

In 1998, he founded Positive Planet, a non-profit organization which is active in more than 80 countries, employing over 500 staff, and provides funding, technical assistance and advisory services to 10,000 microfinance players and stakeholders. Positive Planet is also active in France empoverished suburbs.

In 2001, Jacques Attali was subject to investigations on the charges of "concealment of company assets which have been misused and influence peddling". He was discharged on 27 October 2009 by the magistrate’s court of Paris, "on the benefit of the doubt".[2]

Jacques Attali advocates the establishment of a global rule of law, which will condition the survival of democracy through the create of a new global order. He thinks the regulation of the economy by a globalfinancial supervisory institution may be a solution to the financial crisis which started 2008. The financial institution is a first step towards the establishment of a democratic world government, of which the EU can be a laboratory.

Private financial career[edit]

In 1994, Jacques Attali founded Attali & Associates (A&A), an international advisory firm which specializes in strategy consulting, corporate finance and venture capital to help companies develop on the long run.

In 2012 Jacques Attali became a member of the Supervisory board of Kepler Capital Markets, a Swiss broker based in Geneva.[3][4] The same year, Credit Agricole sold Cheuvreux, which employs about 700 people worldwide, to Kepler Capital Markets.

Music and arts[edit]

On 9 September 2010, Jacques Attali was appointed as a member of the directorate of the Musée d’Orsay.

Jacques Attali has a passion for music: he plays the piano (he once played for the association Les Restos du cœur), and wrote lyrics for Barbara. He is the author of the book Bruits (1977) (English: Noise: The Political Economy of Music), an essay which deals with the economy of music and the importance of music in the evolution of our societies.

In 2010, he directed the Grenoble University orchestra, open to amateurs, under Patrick Souillot. He performed very different pieces, which ranged from a symphony composed by Benda to Bach’s violin concertos, a mass composed by Mozart, Barber’s Adagio and Mendelssohn’s double concerto for violin, piano and orchestra. In 2012, he conducted the Musiques en scène orchestra, performing the opening of the Barber of Sevilla and co-directed the Lamoureux orchestra with his friend, the geneticist Daniel Cohen, during the gala of Technion university, in Paris. He also directed the Lausanne Sinfonietta in August and Ravel's Concerto in G with the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra in Jerusalem and then in Paris. He also directed orchestra in Shanghai, Bondy, Marseille, London and Astana.

With Patrick Souillot, he created in 2012 a national organization following the model of the Fabrique Opéra Grenoble, which aims at coordinating the production of cooperative operas with the participation of students from vocational highschools.

Selected bibliography[5][edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers". Foreign Policy. 25 November 2009. 
  2. ^ "Banques: le triomphe des coupables par Jacques Attali" (in French). 
  3. ^ "Memorial C" (in French). Kepler Capital Markets. 
  4. ^ "Jacques ATTALI" (in French). 
  5. ^ creanodesign.com, CreAno'design -. "Books – Jacques Attali". www.attali.com. Retrieved 2016-03-22. 

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