UK turns its back to Europe once again

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Europe failed yesterday to raise the €200bn bailout target after Britain refused to contribute to the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue fund for distressed states.

The mood in the Eurozone remains brittle, after last week when the EU summit failed to convince global markets of its recovery. So the thorny problem of what to do with the sovereign debt crisis rumbles on. However, European leaders have not given up and another crisis summit has already been pencilled in for late January.

Mario Draghi yesterday reiterated that it is not the role of European Central Bank (ECB) to buy sovereign bonds. Buying government bonds on any more than a modest, market-calming scale would, he said, "Negatively affect the credibility of our institution". Instead the ECB is printing money for the use of commercial banks, which can now borrow as much as they want for three years. The ECB hopes they will use it to buy government bonds, even if this could be a dangerous game to play for the European banks.

In his testimony to the European parliament Draghi also said, in half a dozen different ways, that austerity in Euroland would mean a shrinking economy. But he is not worried about the euro; "I have no doubt whatsoever about the strength of the euro, about its permanence, about its irreversibility." Well that's a relief.

With – or despite – the input from the ECB president, the euro had a comfortable day on Monday, holding steady against the US dollar, the Swiss franc and the yen and losing only a little ground to the pound. Sterling/euro continued to struggle fruitlessly with technical resistance that has held it back for nearly a week.

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