Jacques Attali

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Jacques Attali
Jacques Attali.jpg
Jacques Attali
Born (1943-11-01) 1 November 1943 (age 76)
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 economist, writer and senior civil servant.

Former adviser to President François Mitterrand and first president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, he founded the non-profit organization PlaNet Finance and was nominated President of the Commission for the Liberation of French Economic Growth. He is also Founder and President of A&A, a consultancy firm. He has published more than fifty books, including essays and novels.

Foreign Policy Magazine recognized him as one of the top 100 "global thinkers" in the world, noting that at the request of President Nicolas Sarkozy, Attali led a committee that delivered a groundbreaking report advising Sarkozy on how to ignite the growth of the French economy by trimming the French bureaucracy and initiating many free market reforms. [1]

Early life

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. 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). He also holds a PhD in economics from University Paris Dauphine.

In 1968, he met François Mitterrand for the first time, while he was doing an internship at the prefecture of a French department (Nièvre).

He 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 Bruits, an essay which deals with the economy of music and the importance of music in the evolution of our societies. He directed the Grenoble University orchestra (performing 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), and co-directed the Lamoureux orchestra with his friend, the geneticist Daniel Cohen, during the gala of Technion university, in Paris.

Political career

In 1970, when he was 27, he became a member of the Council of State. In 1972, 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.

He taught economics from 1968 at the Paris Dauphine University, at the École polytechnique and at the École des Ponts et chaussées.

His network comprises several young researchers : Yves Stourdzé (who ran the European research program EUREKA co-founded by Jacques Attali) and Érik Orsenna, but also leading figures in various fields (including journalism, mathematics, show business, financial analysis).

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

His close collaboration with François Mitterrand began in December 1973, and led his campaign for presidential elections in 1974. 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. The President also entrusted him with the role of "sherpa" (personal representative of a head of State) for the 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 Paris G7 summit in 1982. In 1985, he co-founded the European program EUREKA, dedicated to the "development of new technologies". He organised the bicentennial of the French Revolution of 14 July 1789. In 1989, he initiated an international plan of action against the disastrous flooding in Bangladesh.

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.

Financial career

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. Jacques Attali thus founded the first institution dedicated to Eastern Europe. Under the leadership of its President, the EBRD promoted investments which aimed at protecting nuclear power plants, protecting the environment and, more generally, developing infrastructure and reinforcing private sector competitiveness.

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 1994, Jacques Attali founded Attali & Associates (A&A), which gathers all the competences in strategy consulting, corporate finance and venture capital to help companies develop on the long run with profitability.

In 1998, he founded PlaNet Finance, a non-profit organization which is active in more than 80 countries and provides funding, technical assistance and advisory services to 10,000 microfinance players and stakeholders.

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 ». [1]

In 2012 Jacques Attali became a member of the Supervisory board of Kepler Capital Markets, a Swiss broker based in Geneva. [2] [3] The same year, Credit Agricole sold Cheuvreux, which employs about 700 people worldwide, to Kepler Capital Markets.

"Attali Commission"

On 24 July 2007, Nicolas Sarkozy entrusted Jacques Attali with the presidency of a commission dedicated to the study of the obstacles to economic growth, known as "The Commission for the Liberation of the French Economic Growth". This bipartisan commission comprised 42 members. They handed their report to the French President on 23 January 2008. They made several recommendations which aimed at transforming the French economy and society in order to "liberate growth" and take up various economic challenges.

Other activities

On 9 September 2010, Jacques Attali was appointed as a member of the directorate of the Musée d’Orsay. In 2010, he directed the Grenoble University orchestra, open to amateurs, under Patrick Souillot.[2] He is also a Board Member for Population Action International.


See also


  1. The FP Top 100 Global Thinkers Foreign Policy, 25 November 2009
  2. "A Grenoble, on peut jouer dans un orchestre symphonique sans passer d'audition !" France 3 Alpes Television, 12 November 2012

External links