The market is beginning to hum over the prospect that Mario Draghi’s bond-purchase plan won’t be enough — or not fleshed out enough — to live up to his big-bang promise that the European Central Bank will do whatever it takes to save the euro. Aside from a scuffle with the Bundesbank, the complexity of any operation — which may entail bond-yield caps, purchases in a range of asset classes and the publication of targets — may leave a few holes in whatever Draghi unveils on Thursday.
But there’s a wrinkle. Should market disappointment prompt another spike in bond yields in Italy and Spain, that could force the hand of those governments to do what they’ve so far balked at: step forward to ask for help. Any assistance from the ECB to ease borrowing costs will be attached to strict conditions. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said over the weekend he’ll wait for what the ECB has to offer before making a decision “that’s good for Spain and for the euro.” If the ECB’s plan falls short, that decision could come sooner rather than later.