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As the new year began, good reason arrived to expect relief in Europe’s financial crisis. The European Central Bank (ECB) signaled that it had jettisoned its former hands-off policy and begun, at last, to support European financial markets. The remarkable nature of the change drew only a few headlines and even less commentary, but it deserves more. ECB help is crucial. Only Europe’s central bank has the financial wherewithal to ease the panic over sovereign debt. Its new willingness to provide needed liquidity, if it continues, as it seems it will, can do more to stabilize markets than any number of Merkel-Sarkozy embraces or agreements.

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