这样的低迷形势持续得越久，欧洲央行（European Central Bank）寻求保持金融稳定（到目前为止是成功的）所面临的挑战会越大。它强化了一种观点，即欧洲央行可以为到达更好的目的地提供桥梁，但它本身并没有办法提供这个目的地。
The European Commission (EC) published its winter projections Friday. They point to further economic contraction and worsening debt dynamics this year giving way to recovery and financial stabilization in 2014 (and presumably beyond). But will they?
Let us start with the official numbers, focusing on five items:
• After contracting in real terms by 0.6% in 2012, the GDP of the 17-member eurozone is projected to decline by another 0.3% in 2013. Accordingly, and despite forecasting an improving budgetary outlook, the debt burden would maintain its upward trajectory, rising by another 2 percentage points of GDP. Meanwhile, the alarming unemployment situation would worsen, with the overall rate increasing from 11.4% to 12.2%.
• These disappointing projections are not limited to the struggling peripheral economies. The largest economies at the core of the eurozone are expected to expand marginally (Germany at 0.5%) or stagnate (France). And with this, joblessness in the core would edge higher.
• Italy and Spain, viewed correctly by many as central to the stability of the eurozone, would contract by 1.0% and 1.4%, respectively. This would push unemployment up to 11.6% in Italy and to a stunning 26.9% in Spain.
• Intra-eurozone dispersion would remain significant. With a projected 3% growth rate, Estonia would again lead the pack while Greece, expected to contract by another 4.4% would come last once more.
• Finally, the EC forecasts a notable recovery in 2014, though this does not incorporate likely changes in the fiscal policy stance. Specifically, every eurozone country (except Cyprus) is projected to grow, with the area's growth rate coming in at 1.4% -- encouraging, though not enough to dramatically change the unemployment picture.
If these projections are to be believed, they point to greater socio-political fragility in 2013. Specifically, the wave of popular dissatisfaction sweeping across Europe would persist. Street protests would remain a recurrent theme, especially in the peripheral economies. And traditional political structures would come under greater pressure, without a durable alternative emerging any time soon.
The longer such malaise persists, the greater the challenges facing the European Central Bank in its (so far successful) quest to maintain financial stability – reinforcing the view that the ECB can provide a bridge to a better destination but cannot, on its own, deliver this destination.
All this should be ringing loud alarm bells in national capitals, as well as in the EC's headquarters in Brussels and the ECB's Frankfurt.