The ECB throws Italy and Spain to the wolves
The European Central Bank has abandoned Italy and Spain to their tortured fate.
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
Its refusal to act in the face of an existential threat to monetary union has set off violent tremors across the global financial system, raising the risk that the crisis will spiral out of control.
Bank shares crashed in Madrid and Milan, with Intesa Sanpaolo down 10pc and Italy’s MIB index reduced to its knees with a one-day fall of 5.2pc. Share trading was suspended at a string of bourses across Europe.
Yields on 10-day US debt fell to zero in a replay of panic flight to safety seen during the onset of the Lehman-AIG crisis three years ago.
Jean-Claude Trichet, the ECB’s president, said the bank had purchased eurozone bonds for the first time since March but this token gesture was confined to Ireland and Portugal, countries that have already been rescued.
Professor Willem Buiter, Citigroup’s chief economist, said the apparent ECB action was pointless. “The warped logic of intervening in two countries that don’t need it is as strange as it gets.”