For just under a year, the ECB has offered €442 billion to encourage lending. Instead, and easily predictable, the program did not increase lending and did nothing more than allow weak banks to roll over debts.
The program is now ending and Spanish banks are screaming about the ECB’s “obligation to supply liquidity”.
The Wall Street Journal has part of the story in ECB Walks a Fine Line Siphoning Off Its Liquidity.
The European Central Bank is scrambling to reassure markets that Thursday’s expiration of a €442 billion ($547.46 billion) bank-lending program won’t destabilize the financial system, even as banks across the region remain wary of lending to one another.
The ECB introduced the 12-month lending facility last summer to encourage private-sector lending and ensure adequate liquidity within the 16-member currency bloc. Since then, the program, which represents more than half the ECB’s liquidity operations, has become a lifeline to banks in Greece, Spain and other countries hit by the region’s debt crisis.
The cost of borrowing euros in the interbank market rose to an eight-month high Monday, as banks prepared for the one-year loan’s expiration. The euro slid on worries that repayment will expose Europe’s financial system to new threats. Yields on German bunds, seen as a haven, fell.
Some investors worry that vulnerable euro-area banks, unable to borrow in the interbank market, could have difficulty replacing that funding, despite repeated assurances from the ECB that it will provide funds on similar terms, albeit for only three months, beginning Wednesday.
“We are confident that this very large financial transaction can take place without disruptions,” ECB governing council member Ewald Nowotny said Friday.
Spanish Banks Whine About the “Obligation” to Supply Liquidity
The Financial Time reports Spanish banks rage at end of ECB offer.
Spanish banks have been lobbying the European Central Bank to act to ease the systemic fallout from the expiry of a €442bn ($542bn) funding programme this week, accusing the central bank of “absurd” behaviour in not renewing the scheme.
One senior bank executive said: “Any central bank has to have the obligation to supply liquidity. But this is not the policy of the ECB. We are fighting them every day on this. It’s absurd.”
Another top director said: “The ECB’s policy is that they don’t want to provide maturity of more than three months. But they have to adapt.”
A special offer of six-day liquidity will tide banks over until the following week’s regular offer of seven-day funds. On Wednesday, the ECB will also be offering unlimited three month liquidity, and further offers of three-month liquidity will keep banks going until at least the end of the year.
“The system is just not working,” agrees Simon Samuels, banks analyst at Barclays Capital in London. “We’re approaching the third year of liquidity support and still the market cannot survive unaided.”
Spain and Greece Will Both Default
It should be perfectly obvious that at some point Spain and Greece are going to default. The factors at play are …
- How much longer the ECB is willing to throw good money after bad
- How much longer Germany will put up with ECB policy
- How much longer the market will put up with this extend and pretend nonsense
- How much longer Greece and Spain are willing to put up with austerity measures
Extend and pretend can go on for years or this can all blow sky high in a month. Regardless, the implications of this setup are extremely negative.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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