For Europe’s politicians, the task of 2011 was to save the euro and the way chosen to do that was to hold summits.
The region’s politicians convened a total of 15 of them: unfortunately none came up with a clear cut plan and many feel the eurozone crisis is no closer to being solved for all the talking.
With a changing cast of characters as events pushed some leaders into the dustbin of history, those gatherings took action — but not what the financial markets wanted to see.
The European Financial Stability Facility — a rescue fund for states in difficulty — was boosted and the launch of the European Stability Mechanism another rescue fund moved up by a year to mid-2012.
Portugal was bailed out, Greece bailed out further and agreement reached on moving towards greater fiscal union.
The outlook for 2012 is for more summits; the next one focused on the eurozone’s problems is due in March.
But among investors pessimism persists. Analyst Louise Cooper of BGC Partners in London said: “I would love to think that 2012 would be better, but I actually think it could be worse. I think that come the beginning of the year, minds will be focused on quite how much debt some of these governments in Europe need to issue, just to survive, just to keep still — hundreds of billions of euros.”
What the markets would really like to see is more government bond-buying by the European Central Bank, but that does not look likely; as well as increased efforts to provide aid through the International Monetary Fund, on which there has been only limited progress.