On the anniversary of the European Central Bank's (ECB) confirmation that it would essentially underwrite euro zone sovereign credit risk, and Mario Draghi's memorable line that it would do "whatever it takes" to support the euro currency, how should one assess its performance the past year?
There is no doubt that this action stabilized the EU financial markets and took the heat out of the "future of the euro" debate. Investors weren't prepared to take on the ECB and in short order southern euro zone sovereign bond yields came down and countries such as Spain, Italy and Portugal (more on Portugal in a second!) were able to continue to issue debt to international investors. Allied to improving economic conditions in the U.S., this set the scene for the bullish performance in equity markets from the start of 2013.
(Read more: Portugal's bond market tanks as crisis deepens)
So bravo Mr Draghi!
Has this "solved" the problems of European monetary union? Not one bit. Only last week there were reports of a new euro-related crisis arising in Portugal, and ongoing concerns with Greek debt restructuring. ECB action merely postponed the difficult decisions concerning long-term viability of the euro. Not that it may not survive for another 50 years or even 100 years – but if nothing else changes then that's only going to happen if there are continuing transfers of hard cash from the northern euro zone to the southern. So taxpayers may be getting fleeced by the back door.