The International Monetary Fund (IMF) warning of "a sizable risk" that some euro zone countries could suffer a debilitating decline in prices, called on Wednesday for the European Central Bank (ECB) to pump money into the region's economy by buying huge volumes of government bonds.
Such bond buying is a move the ECB has resisted, one that would probably outrage the fiscal disciplinarians of Germany.
And it is unclear whether the IMF's public push for big spending by the central bank will make it more or less likely for the bank's president, Mario Draghi, to act. He, like any central banker, wants to appear immune to outside pressure.
But the IMF is well respected, and its warning of deflation, a destructive plunge in prices, could help give the central bank the economic rationale to use the stimulus of buying billions of euros in government bonds.
In a report critical of euro zone policy, the IMF said that there was a 25% risk of consumer price deflation before 2014 and that the danger was greatest in countries like Italy where growth was slow and the government was counting on tax increases to reduce its huge debt.
"A deeper euro area crisis would have substantial global implications," the IMF said in its report, which also warned of other possible shocks to the euro currency bloc, including the failure of a big bank. The ECB did not comment on the report.
The ECB has spent € 212 billion, or $260 billion, at the current exchange rate, buying government bonds since 2010, but has resisted calls for it to mimic the much larger purchases by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England.