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European Central Bank's 'Blueprint' Sinks Stocks


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish. Stocks fell on both sides of the Atlantic today. The reason? The European Central Bank did not announce a much anticipated bond buying program meant to lower borrowing costs for Spain and Italy.

As NPR's Sylvia Poggioli reports, the ECB's president announced only a blueprint today, one that still requires formal approval from the bank's governing council.

SYLVIA POGGIOLI, BYLINE: Last week, Mario Draghi raised expectations when he said he'd do whatever is necessary to save the euro, but in a press conference in Frankfort today, he offered only what he called ECB guidance and hypothetical measures that would not be applied before September.

Draghi said the framework of measures had unanimous ECB approval, with one exception, that of German Central Bank president Jens Weidmann, who reflects German opposition to doling out money to bail out indebted Southern eurozone members. Nevertheless, Draghi reiterated his promise to prevent the collapse of the Single Currency Union.

MARIO DRAGHI: It's pointless to back against the euro. It's pointless because the euro will stay and it's going to be irreversible.

POGGIOLI: The ECB president said details of the measures will be worked out over the next few weeks, but he insisted that any intervention by the ECB and buying out bonds is conditional on governments keeping pledges to restructure their economies.

DRAGHI: If there are substantial and continuing disequilibria and imbalances in the current accounts in fiscal deficits, in prices, in competitiveness, monetary policy cannot feel this vacuum and so that's why conditionality is essential.

POGGIOLI: Greece's bailout in exchange for Draconian austerity measures has led to widespread poverty and a third year of recession, so the conditionality Draghi refers to has become a specter that Spain and Italy desperately want to avoid.

Sylvia Poggioli, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.