Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega shone a ray of hope amid Europe’s financial gloom a few weeks ago when he said his country and its fellow so-called BRICs -- Russia, India and China -- might step up purchases of European sovereign bonds to bolster faltering markets. With trillions of dollars in currency reserves, the BRICs could indeed raise demand for now-suspect European paper with subtle shifts in their investment weightings.

But any expectations for a reverse emerging markets bail-out of Old Europe were disappointed at the IMF/World Bank annual meetings this week in Washington. A packed joint press conference of the finance ministers and central bank governors from the four BRIC nations offered little save a tepid communique noting that the group was “open to consider, if necessary, providing support through the IMF or other international financial institutions in order to address the present challenges to global stability.”

....