It was a watershed moment. All year, the European Central Bank has faced growing pressure—from governments, markets, the mainstream economics establishment, the International Monetary Fund—to embark on a large-scale government bond-buying program. And all year, the ECB had resisted, arguing repeatedly that quantitative easing would yield little benefit in the eurozone's bank-centric, structurally challenged economy and warning of the political and moral hazard that would arise as a result of exposing the ECB balance sheet directly to sovereign credit risk.
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