Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dithering European policymakers fail to calm volatile stock markets

The Guardian
Helen Pidd
Jill Treanor

• Germany divided over bolstering bailout fund
• Analysts expect US-style Tarp €150bn relief scheme

Eurozone in turmoil as markets remain unconvinced that
European debt crisis can be stabilised.
Stock markets endured a day of sharp volatility amid uncertainty about how eurozone leaders intend to solve the ongoing – and increasingly pressing – crisis that is gripping the single currency and threatening global growth.

While the US and UK hope that eurozone leaders will come up with a scheme strong enough to build a firewall around the most indebted countries in the eurozone, Germany has emerged as a stumbling block to any plan to increase the bailout funds for the eurozone to €2tn (£1.7tn) or more.

German politicians told the Guardian of their dismay at reports following the last weekend's meeting of the International Monetary Fund about beefing up the existing bailout fund – known as the European Financial Stability Facility.

Frank Schäffler, a Free Democratic Party (FDP) politician from North Rhine-Westphalia, said any scheme to bolster the fund from its existing €440m capacity would be a "catastrophic development" that he feared would lead to inflation.

"It must be stopped," he said in a phone interview. Schäffler is from the pro-business Free Democratic Party (FDP), which rules in coalition with the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) of the chancellor, Angela Merkel.

Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, appeared to downplay any attempt to bolster the EFSF. "We do not intend to increase it," he said in a television interview.
His remarks came after European markets closed and after France's CAC40 closed 1.8% higher and the Dax in Germany rose 2.9%.

Gains in London were more muted with the FTSE index ending 0.4% higher at 5,089.37, while Wall Street was gyrating.

President Barack Obama called on European leaders to move more quickly to address the crisis. He said in a town hall meeting that Europe's financial crisis "is scaring the world" and that the actions the region's leaders have taken so far "haven't been as quick as they need to be".
Louise Cooper, of BGC Partners, said: "These massive moves tell us how deeply uncertain is the future. Trying to trade or invest in such markets is more than difficult, I would suggest it is almost impossible."

Gold prices are falling – down by $40 and off $300 from its $1,920 an ounce high on 6 September – as traders liquidate positions to release cash to cover losses elsewhere.

But earlier Lorenzo Bini Smaghi, an executive board member of the ECB, had insisted that discussions were under way about how to bolster the EFSF. "I know that people are thinking about these things. They may not be willing to admit it in the public, but they are thinking about these things," he said, referring to the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (Tarp) used in the US after the 2008 banking crisis.
Analysts at JP Morgan expect European banks to get a capital injection of up to €150bn through a Tarp-like deal. "Euro-Tarp is, in our view, the best risk-reward medicine for opening the Eurobank funding market," JP Morgan analyst Kian Abouhossein said.

There is also speculation about recapitalisation of eurozone banks, particularly because the losses, or "haircut", on Greek bonds are expected to rise to 50%. The second bailout for Greece in July put the loss at 21% and fears of large writedowns drove shares in Greek banks – big holders of their country's debt – to a 19-year low.

French banks are also of concern to the market and remarks by Banque de France's Christian Noyer at the weekend were seen as suggesting the central bank was ready to step in if necessary.

While a wide-ranging solution is needed, the focus is still on Greece. It needs the sixth tranche of payouts – €8bn – from its original bailout to be released next month or it will run out cash, potentially defaulting on its debt and being unable to pay its public-sector workers.

The EFSF must also be endorsed across the eurozone, even before any plans can be adopted to bolster its firepower. A key vote in Germany is due on Thursday and Schäffler suggested Angela Merkel, the chancellor, and Schäuble were not being honest with parliament about what lay ahead. "The ink has not dried on this second bailout and already there is talk about more money," he said.
On Tuesday afternoon the FDP, part of the government coalition, will meet to decide whether to support Merkel but Schäffler says he will vote "no" regardless.

Doubts remain about whether enough will be done. Philip Booth, from Cass Business School, said: "The IMF and the EU still has not woken up to the realities of the sovereign debt situation."

Help Us Transmit This Story

    Add to Your Blogger Account
    Put it On Facebook
    Tweet this post
    Print it from your printer
     Email and a collection of other outlets
     Try even more services

No comments:

Post a Comment