Italy’s Banking Crisis Spirals Elegantly out of Control

Monday, February 15, 2016
By Paul Martin

by Wolf Richter
WolfStreet.com
February 14, 2016

How to dump toxic waste on the public through the backdoor.

Back during the euro debt crisis, while the ECB was buying government debt from Member States to keep Italian and Spanish government debt from imploding, German politicians fretted out loud about what exactly the ECB was buying. Among them was Frank Schäffler, at the time Member of the Federal Parliament, who in September 2011 said with uncanny accuracy:

“If the ECB continues like this, it will soon buy old bicycles and pay for them with new paper money.”

This is now coming to pass.

Italy, the Eurozone’s third largest economy, is in a full-blown banking crisis. Four small banks were rescued late last year. The big ones are teetering. Their stocks have crashed. They’re saddled with non-performing loans (defined as in default or approaching default). We’re not sure that the full extent of these NPLs is even known.

The number officially tossed around is €201 billion. But even the ECB seems to doubt that number. Its new bank regulator, the Single Supervisory Mechanism, is now seeking additional information about NPLs to get a handle on them.

Other numbers tossed around are over €300 billion, or 18% of total loans outstanding.

The Rest…HERE

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