Europe’s Banks Begin to Fail
October 11, 2011
The date is May 11, 1931. Creditanstalt, a little-known Austrian bank, suddenly announces it can’t make its dept payments. An unstoppable chain reaction results.
Bank failure, stock market crash, mass business closures, 25 percent unemployment, trade wars, runaway inflation, multiple currency collapses, the Great Depression, World War ii. All of it began with a little-known bank in a small country in the heart of Europe.
That is history. And it is happening again.
A similar epoch-changing event may be about to occur in Europe.
Last week it was revealed that Franco-Belgian banking giant Dexia was virtually locked out of debt markets and in desperate need of cash. Depositors began a run on the bank—withdrawing over €300 million on Tuesday alone. Investors bailed too, sending the bank’s share price plummeting into the penny stock range. On Thursday, its stock was suspended from trading while governments decided what to do.
The announcement sent Belgian and French politicians into a conniption fit. These same authorities spent billions bailing out the bank in 2008. It was supposed to be fixed.
Making matters worse: Dexia passed not one, but two European bank “stress tests” (the latest in July) with flying colors.