让意大利庆幸的是以欧元区所有成员国为后盾的欧洲央行伸出了援手。今年夏天，投资者开始停止买入意大利债券，欧洲央行挺身而出，在二级市场购入了意大利债券进行干预。欧洲央行这一前所未有的、法律上仍存疑点的干预举动帮助意大利债券的收益率降到了更可管理的水平。欧洲央行表示，此次干预是“应急之举”，一旦扩容后的欧洲救助基金，即欧洲金融稳定基金(The European Financial Stability Facility，简称EFSF)开始运转，欧洲央行就会退到一边。
Lucky for Italy, the European Central Bank, which is backed by all members of the euro zone, came riding to the rescue. When investors stopped buying Italian debt this summer, the ECB stepped in and bought Italian bonds on the secondary markets. This unprecedented, and legally questionable, intervention by the ECB helped bring in Italian bond yields to more manageable levels. The ECB said the intervention was an "emergency measure" and that it would be suspended once the recently enlarged European bailout fund, The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), was up and running.
After several months of political haggling, the newly enlarged EFSF was finally agreed to by all the members of the euro zone in October. Soon after, the ECB reiterated that it would not be backing the fund and that it would be transferring bond buying duties to the EFSF in short order.
The market did not like that at all. Italian bond yields have steadily increased since the ECB made that announcement and have continued to do so even after euro zone nations agreed to lever up the fund by two to three times its newly enlarged size of 440 billion euros.
Meanwhile, the ECB has still been quietly buying up Italian debt. Last week it bought around 9.5 billion euros worth of Italian debt, double what it purchased during the previous week. Without the continued ECB intervention, Italian bond yields would have probably blown out into the double digits, European debt traders tell Fortune. There is still very little private demand for Italian paper given all the uncertainty in the market. The threat of an ECB pullout combined with talk of a government change helped push Italian bond yields to a record high 6.74% this morning.
This unsustainably high yield for Italian debt is the market's way of telling Rome and Brussels: We still don't believe you. It doesn't believe that the Italian government, whether it is led by Berlusconi or technocrats, will make the tough changes necessary, to not only get Italy's fiscal house in order, but to also help grow its way to prosperity. It doesn't believe that the EFSF has the power to prop up Italy's fledgling debt market -along with that of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain - all on its own. And it doesn't believe that the new plan to "lever up" the fund through clever financial engineering will work, either.
The Italians have around 300 billion euros worth of debt that it needs to roll over next year. The EFSF simply doesn't have the ability to absorb that much debt and support the rest of the euro zone periphery. The EU and Italy need the private market to trust it once again. For that to happen, investors will need to be offered more than financial trickery and cheesy Italian love songs.