Euro crisis tests role of ECB

A carnival float shows the head of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi (top) and European leaders in Viareggio, Italy on February 5, 2012.

David Brancaccio: There was no cut in interest rates from the European Central Bank today, but some would like the ECB to take action soon. A few minutes ago, the bank's chief Mario Draghi acknowledged that there's quote "heightened uncertainty weighing on confidence and sentiment" that's hurting the economic outlook.

But there's a limit to what his bank can do, as Christopher Werth reports from London.

Christopher Werth: The European Central Bank is like a pared down version of the U.S. Federal Reserve. Both set interest rates and control inflation. But while the U.S. central bank has more powers, the ECB isn't responsible for financial stability.
 
Holger Schmieding, an economist at Germany's Berenberg Bank, says that's a problem.

Holger Schmieding: The current circumstances were simply not foreseen when the ECB was created.

Current circumstances being the debt crisis.
 
Colm McCarthy, an economist at University College Dublin, says that's left the ECB locked in a stare down with European politicians over who needs to take action.

Colm McCarthy: The European Central Bank is, if you like, staring back at the politicians and saying we're at the limit of what we're allowed to do.

Some hope the bank to more unprecedented measures, like pumping money into troubled banks.
 
In London, I'm Christopher Werth for Marketplace.

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