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Europe’s Big Bang: Mario Draghi’s Pledge Sends Stocks Surging

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Daily Ticker

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Financial markets rallied around the world Thursday morning after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi declared "the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro...and believe me, it will be enough."

By suggesting that rising sovereign bond yields could "hamper the functioning of the monetary policy transmission channel," Draghi seemed to identify a loophole that will allow the ECB to act more aggressively to address the crisis, including a Fed-style round of quantitative easing.

What's important here is not so much Draghi's pledge to preserve the euro, which was understood, but his opening the door to QE -- direct bond purchases by the central bank vs. the "cash for trash" program it offered the banks earlier this year, known as LTRO. To some market watchers, this is the "big bang" out of Europe that could mark the beginning of the end of the crisis.

"There is finally light at the end of the tunnel," writes Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubish. "When the ECB is done there won't be a short against the Euro left on the planet."

Indeed, the euro rallied against the dollar in response to Draghi's comments while yields on Spanish and Italian debt yields fell dramatically. European stock bourses and industrial commodities jumped in reaction and U.S. markets rallied at the open in New York. In recent trading, the Dow (^DJI) was up 260 points.

Conversely, there was selling in 'safe havens' such as German bunds and U.S. Treasuries.

After myriad "false dawns" in Europe in recent years, it's tempting to be skeptical that Draghi's comments will have any lasting impact.

"We're seeing another instance of central bankers trying to save the day with the threat of their printing machine," writes Miller Tabak's Peter Boockvar.

And, indeed, there are questions about what actions Draghi will actually take (and when), whether the Germans will support him and if ECB action can really change the trajectory of Europe's economy, as I discuss in the accompanying video with my Breakout colleague Matt Nesto.

But throughout the crisis, critics have said the ECB needed to do more and Draghi opening the door to a Bernanke-style monetary policy in Europe is a big deal -- at least for the financial markets.

Aaron Task is the host of The Daily Ticker. You can follow him on Twitter at @aarontask or email him at altask@yahoo.com