2011-12-01 / World

European Central Bank’s chief hints at more support

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi hinted the bank is prepared to play a bigger, yet limited role in the resolution of Europe’s debt crisis — but only after the 17 countries that use the euro tether their economies more tightly.

Speculation is mounting that EU leaders will align their spending policies more closely to bring government debt levels under control in the future. This must happen, Draghi told the European Parliament today, before the ECB or other institutions could take more aggressive steps to help prevent the continent’s current debt overload from ripping apart the euro and the global financial system.

“ Other elements might follow, but the sequencing matters,” Draghi said. “And it is first and foremost important to get a commonly shared fiscal compact right.”

Draghi’s cautionary comments tempered the euphoria that swept across financial markets Wednesday, when the ECB, the Federal Reserve and four other central banks unveiled a plan to make it cheaper for commercial banks to borrow dollars.

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