Financial markets move at lightning speeds that contrast sharply with the slowness of the European political process. Whether politicians and financiers can bridge the gap in coming weeks likely to decide the fate of the euro.

The signals coming out of this weekend’s annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank were not positive. Bankers and officials alike stepped up pressure on euro area leaders to take bolder and faster steps to prevent the bloc’s sovereign debt problem from spinning out of control. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner urged European governments to “create a firewall against further contagion,” while Bank of Canada Government Mark Carney said governments needed to amass about €1 trillion ($1.35 trillion) in firepower – more than double the bloc’s existing €440 billion bailout facility – to “overwhelm” the crisis.

European officials stuck to their current script, however, insisting that the group needs to focus on ratifying an agreement struck by EU leaders in July to increase the flexibility and effective size of the bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility. The German Bundestag is due to vote on that agreement on Thursday (September 29), and parliaments in skeptical Finland and the Netherlands also need to give their assent in coming weeks. No one wants to put ratification in jeopardy by talking about additional government support for the periphery before that accord is adopted.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble offered a bracing message of German tough love in a speech to the Institute of International Finance, a banking lobby that meets alongside the IMF meetings. European governments were determined to defend the euro, he said, but he offered no hint that Berlin was ready to stump up more money. Instead, he said states with excessive debts need to aggressively pursue fiscal austerity and economic reform. And he rejected the view put forward by the IMF itself this week that too much deficit reduction by countries like Germany and the U.S. in the short term would worsen the economic slowdown and make debt problems even more intractable.

“We won’t come to grips with economies deleveraging by having governments and central banks throwing – literally – even more money at the problem,” he said. “You simply cannot fight fire with fire.”

In the short term, markets are worried about Greece’s spiraling mountain of debt, which will exceed 150 percent of GDP this year, and waning political support for austerity in Athens at a time of deep economic recession. Bruce Kasman, J.P. Morgan’s chief economist, told an IIF panel that the current EU-IMF economic program has pushed Greece into a recession more severe than Argentina’s a decade ago and would drive its debt up to more than 190 percent of GDP by the end of this decade; it’s arguable that the country would be better off leaving the euro, he suggested, an option that remains anathema for EU officialdom. “Greece is insolvent and the European monetary union and the EU as a whole needs to deal with it,” Kasman said. “It hasn’t come to terms yet with how to deal with it.”