Who is going to bail out the euro?
One can sympathise with Berlin. But sharing debts with Italy and Spain was implicit when they agreed to launch the euro.
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Daily Telegraph 08 October 2008
My view is that Washington has done what is needed to prevent the collapse of the US economy. It has taken over the entire credit system, after all, surpassing Roosevelt's New Deal.
The US has guaranteed the $3.5 trillion money market funds. It has nationalised the $5.3 trillion pillars of the mortgage market, Fannie and Freddie. The Fed is accepting any junk as collateral at its lending window. This week it went the whole hog after panic hit the $1.6 trillion market for commercial paper. It is now offering loans without any security at all. The US government has become a bank.
Yes, this is US socialism. What is the alternative?
An ugly recession is coming, as debt leverage kicks into reverse.
Those such as German finance minister Peer Steinbruck – who thought the sub-prime crisis was just an "American problem" – have had a rude shock. The collapse of Hypo Real with €400 billion of liabilities has made him face the unsettling truth that German banks have played a big part in this $10 trillion speculative venture undertaken by the whole global banking industry.
Europeans borrowed vast sums in dollars in the offshore money markets when dollar credit was cheap. This was leveraged by multiples of 50 or 60 to fund whatever craze was in fashion – Russia, Brazil, infrastructure. The credit crunch has left these banks floundering. They have to pay back a lot of dollars, yet the underlying assets are crumbling. They are caught in a self-feeding spiral of "deleveraging"
Who in the eurozone can do what Alistair Darling has just done in extremis to save Britain's banks, as this $10 trillion house of cards falls down? There is no EU treasury or debt union to back up the single currency. The ECB is not allowed to launch bail-outs by EU law. Each country must save its own skin, yet none has full control of the policy instruments
One can sympathise with Berlin. But sharing debts with Italy and Spain was implicit when they agreed to launch the euro. A shared currency entails obligations. We have reached the watershed moment when Germany has to decide whether to put its full sovereign weight behind the EMU project or reveal that it is not prepared to do so in a crisis.
This is a very dangerous set of circumstances for monetary union. Will we still have a 15-member euro by Christmas?