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Eurocrisis Risk: Not Gone, Only Hiding

A flurry of economic data has buoyed financial markets of late. One important piece of news was the announcement of another 530 billion euros in cheap funding being released by the European Central Bank to the eurozone’s battered banking system. But as a story in today’s FT notes, this recent move isn’t as encouraging as it might seem at first glance.

The collateral that European banks must exchange for these ultra-cheap loans is the sticking point. While the exchange of assets of dubious quality for cold, hard cash from the ECB strengthens banks in the short-run, that doesn’t mean those bad loans and shoddy bonds disappear. The ECB just holds onto them for awhile. As the FT story tells us, the Germans are none too happy about pushing all of this risk of loss onto the ECB.

German concerns are telling. If some of these assets go bust, someone is going to have to pay. It might be the banks, who could be called on to replenish the collateral deposited at the ECB, resulting in new stress in the banking system. Or it might be the eurozone member states, in which case Germany will be forced to fork over even more cash to support the fragile currency zone. In either case, the conclusion remains the same: The situation in Europe remains extremely dangerous, and recent policy measures aren’t doing much to fix the long-term problems.

Via Meadia has expressed concern that European leaders aren’t up to the enormity of the task at hand. Rather than fixing the problems facing the eurozone, they have perfected a maneuver we have called the Eurofudge—superficial measures that merely buy time instead of addressing the real problems.

Recent news indicates that, far from changing their ways, European leaders are up to the same old tricks—if only more clever ones this time.

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  • Laura Jack

    Enormity? I expected better of you.

  • Eurydice

    Well, there was also the announcement that Spain will set its own deficit targets, thank you very much, regardless of what the EU dictates. Perhaps we can take a break from bashing the Greeks and turn our sights on Spain for a while.

  • Jim.

    @Laura Jack

    Perhaps VM is considering a Malthusian solution to the Greek question.

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