Eurozone bureaucrats keep upping the ante as to how big a “firewall” is needed. And at every critical juncture, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has proven she is nothing but a liar. With every demand for additional firepower, comes an inevitable cave-in from Merkel supporting the move, no matter what she says in advance.
Meanwhile, the entire idea that firewalls can accomplish anything is ludicrous, given the key point that currency unions in the absence of fiscal unions cannot and will not work.
I suspect Merkel understands this, merely wanting to get Germany so deep into bailouts step by step, that it will be reluctant to leave the Eurozone.
It is high time the German Supreme court step in and stop this nonsense.
However, nothing can stop Greece, Portugal, and Spain from leaving, and eventually they will. In the meantime, rest assured that every increase in firepower will be additional money of German citizens’ pockets. The end-game will be a currency or banking crisis at the worst possible time.
For now, please consider ‘Even a 1-Trillion Euro Firewall Wouldn’t Be Enough’
European finance ministers meeting in Copenhagen on Friday agreed to boost the euro-zone firewall to over 800 billion euros. The move marks another U-turn on the part of the Merkel administration, which recently dropped its opposition to increasing the fund. German commentators warn that even the new firewall may still be too small.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, have been accused of crossing many of the “red lines” that they have set for themselves over the course of the euro crisis, making U-turn after U-turn as the crisis escalated. They officially stepped over the latest red line on Friday, when European Union finance ministers meeting in Copenhagen agreed to boost the scope of the euro zone’s firewall to over €800 billion ($1 trillion). Berlin had long rejected such an expansion out of hand.
The Nuclear Option
On Thursday evening, in the run-up to Friday’s summit, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble had said he was prepared to combine the existing bailouts with the new permanent mechanism. He said that the €800 billion capacity was “convincing” and “sufficient.”
But not everyone shares his view that the sum is enough. On Thursday, French Finance Minister François Baroin called for the permanent euro bailout fund to be increased to €1 trillion, to shore up market confidence and prevent contagion in the euro crisis. “The firewall, it’s a little like the nuclear option in military planning, it’s there for dissuasion, not to be used,” Baroin said in a radio interview.
‘Shifting Sand Dunes’
Opposition parties in Germany were quick to make political capital out of the Merkel administration’s many U-turns during a debate on the euro rescue fund and the European fiscal pact in the German parliament, the Bundestag, on Thursday. “Your red lines have, in reality, become shifting sand dunes,” Frank-Walter Steinmeier, floor leader for the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), said to widespread applause.
In December, Merkel argued, entirely convincingly, that boosting the euro bailout fund was the wrong course to take. After all, she said, it would reduce the pressure on crisis-stricken states to push through reforms. There was also the question of whether the creditor countries, including Germany, were in danger of being overwhelmed by ever-higher guarantees.” “Now, the fund is indeed being expanded, and the coalition government’s former concerns have suddenly disappeared. Instead, the administration is attempting to conceal its own U-turn with highly flawed arguments.
The left-leaning Die Tageszeitung focuses on the calls to boost the ESM to €1 trillion:
“One trillion euros is a lot of money, and yet even this huge sum will not be enough. But again, that’s nothing new. For months, calculations have been doing the rounds that show that at least €1.5 trillion will be needed. The only interesting question left is how long it will take France and Germany to acknowledge this reality.”
No Amount is Enough
For reasons noted at the top, no amount of money (that can reasonably be provided) would be sufficient. After all, there is a limit to what German citizens and taxpayers can stand. Besides, money alone cannot fix structural problems.
Finally, the “nuclear” option is nothing more than former US treasury Hank Paulson’s “Bazooka” theory in disguise.
Bazooka Theory vs. Actual Results
“If you have a bazooka in your pocket and people know it, you probably won’t have to use it.” Paulson said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing. The reference was in regards to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Paulson believed that if he had the power to bailout Fannie Mae, the market would react to that possibility and no bailout would be necessary.
Now taxpayers have wasted close to $200 billion bailing out Fannie and Freddie bondholders (mainly PIMCO and foreign banks).
Flashback February 12, 2010: EU Leaders Deploy ‘Bazooka’ to Repel Attack on Greece
German Chancellor Angela Merkel and her counterparts yesterday pledged “determined and coordinated action” to support Greece’s efforts to regain control of its finances. They stopped short of providing taxpayers’ money or diluting their own demands for the country to cut the European Union’s biggest budget deficit.
“It’s like Paulson’s bazooka,” said Nielsen, Goldman Sachs’s chief European economist in London. “It’s a difficult balancing act — saying something comforting to the market without committing money and hoping the market will take their word for it.”
After a three-month long plunge in Greece’s bonds amid speculation it was facing the threat of default, euro-region leaders yesterday ordered the country to slash its budget deficit and warned investors they would be willing to defend the country from speculative attack if necessary.
“This is not money for free,” said Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who heads the group of euro-area finance ministers. “This is a strong commitment imposed on Greece.”
How Well Did That Idiotic Bazooka Move Work Out?
Bazooka theory does not work, nor did threats to investors that the ECB and EMU would be willing to defend the country from speculative attack if necessary.
The same holds true today. The Bigger the Bazooka, the More Money Will be Lost.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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