Mario Draghi led the European Central Bank (ECB) into a new era,pledging to buy government bonds in an asset-purchase program worthat least 1.1 trillion euros (US$1.3 trillion) to counter the threatof a deflationary spiral.

The ECB president unveiled a quantitative-easing program of 60billion euros per month until at least the end of September 2016 ina once-and-for-all push to revive inflation and the euro-areaeconomy. The region's 19 national central banks were handedresponsibility for 80 percent of the additional purchases and puton the hook for their own losses, a moved intended to assuagecritics.

A near-stagnant economy and the risk of deflation forcedDraghi's hand six years after the Federal Reserve took a similarstep to inject cash into the U.S. The 67-year-old Italian's gambleis that the benefits of quantitative easing—should it work—outweighthe threat of a backlash in Germany, whose politicians and centralbankers have vehemently opposed the move.

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