Sunday 25 February 2018

Europe needs to face up to crisis

TALK quietly, but carry a big cheque book, seems to be the policy of the European Central Bank as it moves lugubriously to deal with the eurozone's debt crisis. ECB head Jean-Claude Trichet was hardly chosen for the job for his rashness. Even so, the caution and excessive deliberation in efforts to contain the continent's debt crisis has been unsettling. His announcement that the ECB will prolong special measures that provide ready cash to banks to steady the financial system will calm some nerves.

But many might have reasonably expected the famously staid Mr Trichet to have gone further considering the anxiety in Madrid, Lisbon, and Rome. Unsurprisingly, markets were initially disappointed when Mr Trichet did not go all out and significantly step up the ECB's purchase of government bonds.

There was something of a comeback later, as many believe the ECB might in fact be engaging in stealth tactics -- quietly buying up the bonds of troubled eurozone countries -- despite Mr Trichet's reticence. While such steps may have a short-term calming impact, looking ahead, far more pressing concerns need to be addressed.

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