Friday, December 23, 2011

Eurozone zombies follow Mario Draghi's cheap money

Mario Draghi donned his plague suit on Wednesday and urged European banks to "Bring out your dead". But rather than financial corpses it was €489bn (£408bn) of zombie debt from zombie banks that emerged blinking into the daylight.

Far from reassuring markets, the scale of Wednesday's bail-out for eurozone banks by Draghi's European Central Bank (ECB) should simply confirm worst fears.

European banks face a €600bn tsunami of debt coming due in 2012 (mostly in the first quarter) and many simply can't pay up because the usual source of refinancing, wholesale money markets, are refusing to lend them any more. Sound familiar?

One Northern Rock-style collapse after another would have reverberated around the eurozone over the next three months if the ECB hadn't stepped in with unlimited cash costing 1pc. Almost certainly there would have been a euro-Lehman moment too as a once mighty lender, probably in France, fell over.

Draghi has had to ignore any sense of moral hazard and agree to fund weak banks at the expense of strong. He has opened a quantitative easing (money printing) exercise of enormous proportions. Weak banks unable to fund themselves on the open market are now hooked on cheap ECB money. Read More