Sunday, July 8, 2012

Eurozone crisis will last for 20 years

by Wolfgang Münchau

Financial Times

July 8, 2012

I always wondered who buys risky assets after one of these “historic” statements from the European Council. Sometimes the rally lasts for hours. Other times it lasts for days. The last one ended after less than a week; Italian and Spanish spreads are now above pre-summit levels.

The consensus among observers had been that the EU had taken an important step in the right direction by agreeing a pathway towards a banking union, but that they did not do enough on crisis resolution. I disagree with that statement. I think it was a very large step – in the wrong direction. The summit made a concrete crisis resolution decision contingent on a future decision, which will be even harder to reach, and thus even more likely to fail.

They agreed that there shall be no common bank recapitalisation until a full banking union is established. And the Bundesbank has reminded us that the latter is not possible without a political union. The logical implication is that we won’t solve the crisis for the next 20 years.

What we know now is that Germany will not agree to mutualised deposit insurance. It cannot even agree to give the European Stability Mechanism a banking licence so that it can leverage itself. If Germany cannot do the minimum necessary now, why should anybody think it can agree a political union? This is less credible than the promise by an alcoholic to give up drinking in five years.


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