Paul Volcker once likened global capital markets to a vast sea that cannot escape the occasional big storm. Mr Volcker, a former chairman of the Federal Reserve who is now an adviser to Barack Obama, counselled that when the waters got choppy, it was far safer to be on a big ship. A stately liner can sail serenely through turmoil that would capsize even the sturdiest small vessel.
Mr Volcker was speaking a few months after the collapse of the Thai baht set off the Asian financial crisis, and a few months before the launch of the euro, which celebrates its tenth anniversary on January 1st. A decade on, the euro has demonstrated the virtue of size in rough seas. As small economies were tossed by the financial storms that followed the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September, the currencies with global clout, such as the euro and the dollar, were the most stable.