Judging Europe’s fifth attempt at a comprehensive solution to the euro crisis requires reading the minds of Mario Draghi and the other leaders of the European Central Bank.
In the short run, the ECB remains the only institution with the financial capacity to stop a future round of market panic that could lock Italy or Spain out of the bond markets.
The question: Did the summit do enough to solve the eurozone’s medium- and long-term problems and thus persuade the ECB it could massively intervene in the bond markets if the need arises in coming weeks?
CEB President Draghi spoke quite positively about the summit outcome, but it is very unclear what this pronouncement would actually mean for future ECB actions.
After all, on Thursday he went out of his way to pour cold water on the idea that it would be the ECB’s role to intervene in bond markets in a big way — as opposed to working around the edges.
The ECB remains wary of taking bold action that might take pressure off the government leaders to truly solve the underlying problems, leaving the ECB with all the risk. ECB leaders feel they already lived through this in a smaller way this summer, when they stepped up purchases of Italian bonds only to see Italian President Berlusconi try to backslide on his reform promises as market pressure eased.
Europe needs solutions in three different time-frames.