Chapter 2

Revelation (Five Minutes to Midnight)

Angela Merkel stepped out of her Audi A8 and on to the red carpet at the Cannes conference center to be greeted by Nicolas Sarkozy flanked by French Republican Guards in white breeches and ceremonial plumed helmets, their sabres held aloft in salute. For all the pomp, the mood on the French Riviera in November 2011 was far from celebratory: Merkel shook her head and Sarkozy raised his hands in a gesture of exasperation as they met. It was Greece again.

Europe was two years into the sovereign debt crisis that had emerged in Greece and was rippling through the euro area. Governments were toppling as borrowing costs soared, dividing the region into a relatively healthy northern core anchored by Germany ...

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