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Thursday, June 07, 2012

EUROZONE CRISIS: Desi will constantly monitor the situation...

FOR THY BENEFIT, so 24 late, baddr late than never eh? It's a pro bono service remember?! So here's the update following the starters on June 5:...via LINK hear:)

Will eurozone break apart?

UNIFICATION: The biggest challenge in Europe is to keep crisis-hit nations like Spain afloat and united, writes Landon Thomas Jr

People entering an unemployment registry office in Madrid, Spain. The country, with the fourth-largest eurozone economy, seems to be on the brink of a banking collapse as the global economic gloom deepens. AP pic
AS Spain's economic crisis deepens and uncertainty swirls over Greece's future in the eurozone, the guardians of the increasingly fragile European monetary union are near a moment of truth: can they muster the will and resources to keep the eurozone from breaking apart?
The question has grown more urgent since the release of data showing a record-high rate of unemployment in the eurozone, poor job creation in the United States and a manufacturing slowdown in China. Combined, those signals have fuelled fears of a second global recession.
On consecutive days last week, two of the most powerful figures in Europe -- Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, and Olli Rehn, the most senior economic official in Brussels -- warned that the future of the eurozone was in doubt. In the words of Rehn, the union might well disintegrate unless policymakers took steps to bind the euro's 17 nations closer together.
Coming as they did from two men at the very soul of the European project, the reprimands were a stark reminder of just how much the Spanish financial meltdown had shaken the confidence of the European brain trust, to say nothing of investors from New York to Beijing.
Over the weekend, leaders of two of the euro's most vulnerable countries urged more unification. Mario Monti of Italy called for using euro bonds to create a quicker path to common debt for Europe.
And Mariano Rajoy of Spain floated the idea of a common fiscal authority in Europe to synchronise budgets and manage debts.
But as global economic gloom deepens, there is a risk that such lofty talk could be too little, too late for investors, especially with Spain seeming on the brink of a banking collapse.
Sitting as Spain does on an estimated  E220 billion (RM875.4 billion) in failed real estate loans alone -- a number that surpasses the entire output of the Greek economy -- there is little doubt that Spain, with the fourth-largest eurozone economy -- behind Germany, France and Italy -- is too big to fail. Or, more precisely, to be allowed to fail.
Indeed, many investors and money managers now see Europe's challenge as not how to bail out sickly Spanish banks, but how to keep Spain and even Italy afloat and in the eurozone as money keeps leaving these countries, forcing interest rates up and leaving local banks as the only buyers of government debt.
"The eurozone is disintegrating and this has started to feed into institutional capital flight out of the eurozone," said Jens Nordvig, a senior bond and currency specialist at Nomura in New York.
"The crisis has reached a new level. Policymakers are realising that there are only two options: further integration or a break-up."
Arriving at an action plan and amassing the cash to back it up will be no easy matter, though. Analysts guess that a comprehensive rescue for Spain would cost E350 billion, and one for Italy would cost even more. Sums that large would quickly overwhelm the E500 billion available in the new European rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism.
Integration, in the form of banking and fiscal unions, would take time, of course, although policymakers are pushing harder than ever on these fronts.
As for short-term measures that countries like Spain are pushing for, namely to get Europe to provide money for its banks or buy its bonds in bulk, these steps would require sacrifices that Spain seems in no mood to make.
It is the nub of the eurozone's existential quandary: how to get taxpayers in northern creditor countries like Germany to provide funds to countries like Greece and Spain that are unwilling to accept the loss of sovereign control over their banks and budgets that would be the consequence of such assistance.
"Spain wants the money to bail out its banks, but it does not want the conditions," said Charles Wyplosz, an international finance expert at the Graduate Institute in Geneva.
"But at the end of the day, they will have to accept conditionality because, for now, these are the rules."
Analysts estimate that the amount needed to backstop failing Spanish banks is E60 billion to E80 billion, which on the face of it could come from Europe's rescue fund.
The sticking point is that Spain wants Europe to inject money directly into these banks, as in the bank bailout programme in the US in 2008 and a similar effort by the British government.
Germany, however, has no desire to swallow the bill for Spain's bad banks, so it is insisting that funds be disbursed to the Spanish government and that strings be attached. It wants more draconian spending cuts and perhaps even losses for the mostly Spanish investors who hold the stocks and bonds of these failed banks.
But as Berlin and Brussels butt heads with Madrid over who pays what, when and how, money continues to flee from Spain at an alarming rate.
According to figures from the Spanish central bank, E66 billion left the country in March as investors sold Spanish stocks and bonds with abandon. And in April, the outflow of deposits from Spanish banks also picked up, with E31 billion leaving the Spanish banking system, according to the European Central Bank.
Simply put, the number of investors willing to hold Spanish assets of any kind is shrinking by the day. NYT

Read more: Will eurozone break apart? - Columnist - New Straits Times

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