ECB Stealth QE Euro 489 Billion Money Printing to Prevent Eurozone Banking System Collapse
By: Nadeem Walayat
Dec 21, 2011
The ECB’s first ever long term Refinancing Operation (LTRO) that had been estimated to provide upto Euro 350 billion to Europe’s bankrupt banks in the form of cheap 1% 3 year loans, instead a huge Euro 489 billion was borrowed by 523 banks in a rush to grab cheap money that amounts to QE in all but name regardless of ECB propaganda.
The ECB’s stealth QE objective was first to prevent the insolvent euro-zone banks from collapsing over the next few weeks as they were unable to refinance their short-term maturing debts as well as a run on the banks in progress in the euro-zone, and secondly (directly related) to encourage the banks to buy sovereign debt of bankrupting euro-zone countries because the ECB is not allowed to buy sovereign debts. Today’s actions of giving cheap money to the banks (1% per year interest rate) achieves both objectives as the banks took the money to use it to cover short-term maturing debt as well as buy a load of PIIGS debt, and thus are buying time (a couple of months at best) and so greatly diminishes the risks for what was looking like a near imminent collapse of the euro-zone (regardless of whether the trigger was a bankrupt Sovereign or large bank as both ).
Let me again explain more precisely what happened today: The ECB is not allowed to buy PIIGS government bonds, so ECB lends banks Euro 489 billion at 1% that put up PIIGS debt as collateral (which means they cannot sell it), so that they hopefully go and buy more PIIGS debt that pay 5%+, this is exactly the same objective of UK and US Q.E. to monetize their own debt. Though it has the same flaws in that they cannot tell the banks what to do with the money (but governments do bully their banks) so probably lesless than 1/3rd will be used to buy non german sovereign debt.