Get Ready for the Next Crash
Tuesday, September 13, 2011
uropean leaders may stave off a banking crisis for a few more weeks. Markets may even stage a relief rally as Greek debt worries abate. But make no mistake—a deeper crisis in foreign banks is coming.
Financial markets are behaving as if they expect a European banking crisis that would require the bailout or nationalization of some European banks.
That would feel like a replay of the financial crisis that followed the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008. Only this time, the epicenter would be Europe instead of the United States, and the ripples would expand from the Eurozone outward into global financial markets.
How realistic is that fear? Very, I’m afraid. European banks are facing a very real liquidity and capital crisis that could lead to the need for a government rescue of some globally significant banks.
But the crisis isn’t an exact replay of the 2008 crisis. The effects of the crisis would not be limited to Europe, but the likelihood that a European crisis would take down a major US bank—in a mirror image of the 2008 crisis where problems originating in the United States did lead to the bailouts of banks in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Belgium—is relatively small.
On the other hand, the crisis is potentially worse this time around because the European Central Bank is much less able to intervene as a lender of last resort than the US Federal Reserve was in 2008.
Understanding This Crisis