The European Central Bank can act at any time, Jean-Claude Trichet, president likes to boast (did he ever see Monty Python’s famous “Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition” sketches?). He certainly proved the point last night. The ECB’s statement announcing the decision to intervene in government bond markets came at 3.15am.
Why the unearthly hour? The reason is fairly simple. Mr Trichet was determined that the ECB would only act once governments had made new pledges to bring fiscal policy back under control. At Friday’s eurozone leaders summit in Brussels, he berated them for their past dithering. Mr Trichet also wanted to show the ECB’s independence, so finance ministers could not be seen announcing what the central bank was going to do. Read more