Der Spiegel – Printing Money The European Central Bank’s Discreet Help for Greece – 9 August 2012

The European Central Bank is now taking risky measures to help save Athens from its acute financial emergency. Increasingly, euro-zone leaders are pushing the dirty work on the ECB. In the end, though, they will likely have no choice but to pay Greece the next tranche of its bailout package.

“There is no time to lose,” Jean-Claude Juncker warned just a few days ago. Leaders must use “all means at their disposal” to save the currency union, the head of the Euro Group said. But one thing is becoming clear: Politicians are increasingly pushing the dirty work on to the European Central Bank (ECB).

Take Greece, for example, where liquidity is becoming scarce. The government in Athens needs to repay a maturing bond worth €3 billion ($3.7 billion) to the ECB by Aug. 20. The solution to that problem seems paradoxical: The ECB itself is pumping money into Greece, so that the country can in turn repay the ECB.