Europe’s “Troubled Assets” Bank Bailout: Germany’s Chancellor Merkel Pushes for a Eurozone “Banktatorship”
by Mike Whitney
September 5, 2011
The Bundestag will have one chance to stop Angela Merkel’s plan to provide hundreds of billions of dollars to underwater EU banks that made bad bets on sovereign bonds. If the German parliament fails to block Merkel on September 23, then–under the “expanded powers” of the European Financial Security Facility (EFSF)– insolvent banks will be bailed out and the costs will be passed on to eurozone taxpayers.
Despite her populist bloviating (“We won’t be bullied by the markets”), Merkel is a devout Europhile committed to a fiscal union ruled by bankers and bondholders, a Banktatorship. Presently, she is doing whatever she can to hurry the process along before hostile bond vigilantes roil the markets and bring the EU banking system crashing down. This is from Der Spiegel:
“In a situation of market panic, the EFSF has to act quickly,” Holger Schmieding, chief economist of Berenberg Bank, told the Financial Times Deutschland. “It could happen overnight or on a weekend.” Guntram Wolff of the Brussels-based think tank Bruegel agreed. Parliamentary approval “must not take too long.” (“Parliamentary Influence over Euro Bailouts ‘Naive’”, Der Spiegel)
Sound familiar? US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson used the same strategy after Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008 in order to blackmail congress out of $800 billion via the TARP bailout. Once again, the fear of a financial meltdown is being invoked to stealthily extort money from working people. Here’s a clip from another article in Der Spiegel:
“The banks are in fact in a bad way. Most of them still have a lot of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Irish sovereign bonds on their balance sheets, and it is not entirely clear whether these will ultimately be repaid in full. That in turn is fueling distrust among the financial institutions themselves and many have stopped lending each other money. They are only being kept alive because the European Central Bank (ECB) is making an unlimited amount of money available to them and are accepting securities as collateral that many investors no longer consider to be safe.
Better capitalization for the banks could alleviate this mistrust, because more equity means that the banks could better absorb losses from their sovereign debt business. Those institutions that are not strong enough to raise the money themselves on the capital market would have to be helped out with public money. There is hardly an institution that is better suited for that job than the EFSF.” (“The Euro Rescue Fund Needs More Powers”, Der Speigel)