EU/IMF Policies for Troubled Banking Systems

The debate about imposing losses on uninsured depositors in some Cypriot banks is the main story in today’s WSJ here.

Olli Rehn elaborates on bank recapitalizations here.

28 replies on “EU/IMF Policies for Troubled Banking Systems”

This extract sums up the situation.

“Germany and the IMF, these officials say, have argued that rescue loans could be reduced and the Cypriot debt left more sustainable if some depositors were bailed in and forced to swallow some of the cost of the banks’ bad investments—in other words, some depositors wouldn’t get all their money back. German politicians have criticized plans to bail out Cyprus, saying its banks are havens for tax evaders and money launderers.

The discussion has arisen because bank bonds—which in a regular bank restructuring would be the first candidates to be bailed in—account for less than 1.5% of the assets in Cypriot banks, according to analysts at Citigroup C +1.86%. The analysts say there were €70 billion ($93.2 billion) of deposits in the banks at the end of November, of which 38% was held by foreigners.”

What is sauce for German banks is evidently not sauce for the Russian oligarch.

A question that arises for anyone not familiar with the technical aspects is why said Russian depositors have not started a run on Cypriot banks already. Maybe the have no other homes to go to.

An intriguing situation!

Alphaville had detailed coverage some time back.

A euro in a Cyprus bank is clearly no longer a euro.

In summation. In bust banks, Germany will decide which deposits will get paid and which will not. It looks like non national depositors are being singled out at present because they are ….etc etc.
But if one links this thinking to the Paul DeGrauwe article re Target2 and what amounts depositors would get paid in the event of a euro breakup, then it is clear that non national depositors with funds in German banks should be well warned.

The thinking also has severe implications for depositors in banks that issue covered bonds. If covered bonds are to be paid first, and depositors can be filtered out at will, then every covered bond issued downranks the security of depositors.
Ordinary depositors are now in play, it seems. One can ignore the Russian oligarch, tax dodger bit ….that is just the necessary propaganda to set the stage.

It is a good article. The problem with what she suggests is that the participation in the charade, as she describes it, is on an unequal basis. In short, Ireland has more to lose if the government is first to drop it.

Otherwise, the government could be said to be following the advice offered. If the government has difficulties with OMT, these do not appear to be shared by the head of the NTMA.

It is also quite clear that some form of assistance, as outlined in vague terms by the last meeting of the European Council, is planned for countries with the biggest problems, notably in relation to youth unemployment (i.e. Spain).

If the long-term budget 2014-2020 can be agreed on 7 February – and the decisive players are Cameron and Merkel, the first in terms of blocking agreement and the second in terms of facilitating it – the situation for 2013 should look a lot rosier (and also for Merkel’s chances of re-election).

HT Eurointelligence for the links.

Some of us thought that the blather about returning to the market was overdone last year given the slow growth outlook. Now as the date draws closer, there is need for a safety net after all.

On a related issue, in Davos yesterday, Enda Kenny claimed that Ireland’s corporate tax regime was “very clear, very transparent” while David Cameron was saying that corporate tax evasion is on the agenda of the UK presidency of the G8.

Kenny can say whatever but on both sides of the Atlantic, pressure is growing for change.

A second major question at Davos, at least for the German media, was the reported view of the Ifo institute that the Commission would be launching a procedure under the excessive imbalances legislation in respect of Germany as the country’s current account surplus has exceeded 6%. Merkel defended German policy in the usual manner claiming that everything had been done to increase domestic demand (!) and that the surplus was evidence of German competitiveness and should not be put in question.

German business confidence, according to the most recent Ifo survey – the most important one in Germany – is up.

In the meantime, the head of Ifo, Professor Sinn, has not changed his somewhat idiosyncratic views.–141–A-Second-Chance-for-European-Reform.html

@ MH

I agree on the CT. Private Eye has been covering UK corporate tax evasion for some time. The use of Ireland as a tax avoidance mechanism looks unsustainable as austerity cuts deeper across Europe. The French magazine Le Canard Enchaine had a feature on Ireland and tax in its review of 2012. Les Francais ne l’adorent pas. Saw it mentioned in the NZZ as well.

From Central Bank Independence to Democratic Public Finance
Posted on January 25, 2013 by Dan Kervick

‘The anchor of the existing US financial system is the Federal Reserve System: a central bank that possesses forms of operational and political dependence that have become a model for central banks around the world during the neoliberal era. But it is this high degree of independence that is the main source of financial inefficiency. The central bank anchor that was intended to produce stability serves instead to drag the country down when it most needs to move briskly. Central bank independence – at least in its current form – is an idea that has failed the test of crisis, and should be discarded.’ [h/t nakedcapitalism

‘Raw deal’ for Ireland on debt

Ireland got a ‘raw deal’ in the euro crisis, global investor George Soros has said, drawing comparisons with Iceland as ECB president Mario Draghi said the central bank’s loose monetary policy was helping the euro zone return to growth.

… He said the “minimum” of demands on Irish debt would probably be met.

… The MINIMUM …!

@eamonn moran
Ta for link to Megan Greene

From her aritlcle – a must read and sobering pragmatic …

‘Partly because of these economic and financial headwinds, Ireland’s public finances remain unsustainable. The country’s debt burden ended 2012 at almost 120 percent of gross domestic product — the fourth-highest in the euro area after Greece, Italy and Portugal. Ireland’s primary deficit also remains large, at about 4.3 percent of GDP in 2012. ‘
[,,,]A realistic solution is available. Last week, Ireland’s central-bank governor, Patrick Honohan, said good progress was being made in talks with international creditors to restructure the promissory notes that the government issued to guarantee failing banks. Currently, the state has to repay 3.1 billion euros every year through 2022 — slightly less thereafter — to the Irish central bank in order to honor those notes. The next repayment is scheduled for the end of March. A significant extension on the maturity of those repayments could make a real dent in Ireland’s mountain of debt.
[…] The Irish government has been reluctant to play hardball in negotiations so far, partly because it has gone to such lengths to appear the model student. Equally, Ireland’s creditors have resisted making concessions because it looks odd to praise a country as a success while saying it needs help to succeed. The sooner both sides abandon this charade, the greater the chances of Ireland becoming the model it is made out to be.

@Megan Greene

Hardball! +1

Rise and fall of the world’s oldest bank
25 January 2013 La Stampa Turin

Founded in 1472, the bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena has helped raise Siena’s quality of life and governance to the top tier. The political and economic scandal that has erupted around the “MPS”, however, could mark the end of a system – and of an era.

Interview: Klaus REGLING
ESM Chief on Euro Crisis: ‘The Mood in Germany Is Often Very Aggressive’

As head of the ESM permanent bailout fund, Klaus Regling is in charge of preventing a collapse of the euro. In a SPIEGEL ONLINE interview, he discusses German worries over bailouts, the debate over aid for Cyprus and personal attacks against him.


‘Skin in the Game’ Does NOT separate Banks from Sovereigns!

These Cypriot banks do have a big depositor base. While that may include lots of Greek accounts, bailing out hot money from Russia is a legitimate concern. The longer the crisis drags on, the more opportunity fraudsters will have to cover their tracks.

William Black, a former United States financial regulator, said this week that all the rules in the world will have minimal impact if banks continue to be allowed to fudge their figures with accountancy tricks and executives get away with fraud.
Black believes that it is all too easy for banks to inflate the notional value of their assets or hide losses. “Anyone who relies on computer analyses of the garbage provided by banks will create a massive regulatory failure,” he told in Davos.

Even worse, according to Black, the most blatant cases of fraud have gone virtually unpunished. He cited the case of some banks issuing loans to stooge third parties who would buy bank stock to artificially boost capital, only for the loans to be written off.
“There are virtually no elite bankers who caused this crisis who are even under indictment, much less in prison,” Black fumed. “Until regulators understand the fraud mechanisms, and there is no evidence that they even look at these sort of frauds, then it is going to be easy to evade restrictions going forward.”

@ seafóid

On the CT issue, apart from Skye, which was founded in Estonia, and is now part of Microsoft, all of these big modern multinational companies, whether in software, consumer electronics, web services or coffee, all have an American origin.

Even neighbouring towns on the Franco-German border region illustrates how difficult it is to develop an internal market.

Der Spiegel says Emmendingen has 3% unemployment and an urgent need for skilled laborers. In Sélestat, meanwhile, unemployment is at 9% and a quarter of all young adults are without work.

“Anybody who can count to 10 can find work here,” says Stefan Schlatterer, mayor of Emmendingen. “The only thing is, they have to be able to do it in German.” However, given that few young Alsatians learn the language of their neighbors, attempts by Emmendingen companies to recruit workers on the other side of the border have been largely unsuccessful.

Ah Yes – Monetary Financing – 123 – & those Odious Promissory Notes

‘The Government is negotiating on promissory notes it issued to underwrite Anglo after the property market crashed.

Minister for Finance Michael Noonan had proposed converting the note into long-term government bonds that would be taken up by the Central Bank with the intention of keeping the bonds in its portfolio for a long period.

The sources said the ECB’s governing council discussed the plan for the first time at a meeting on Wednesday and Thursday and agreed that it amounted to “monetary financing” of the Government, banned under article 123 of the EU treaty.

“The ball is now back in the Irish court,” one source involved in the deliberations said. “This is an issue of principle. There is a real concern in the Governing Council because you can create precedents when you do things for one country. Then others may say ‘why not for us?’ We must be sure the solution doesn’t open a window in terms of monetary financing.”

Nietschze’s ‘eternal recurring’ comes to mind ….

Solution: Give it to Patricia the Irish_Sovereign_in_Exile – sovereigns_in_exile are not prohibited under 123 so no ‘monetary financing’ – and after a while Patricia can come home!

How idiotic a handcuff is 123 – Bundesbanke illogic again.

@ David O’Donnell

Gilmore’s comment to my cousin in Santiago was similar to what can be heard from a call centre when seeking more specifics on when a service will be restored.

One trump card is to announces talks on the extension of the bailout.

Brendan Keenan makes an interesting point today, saying focus should be on household debt not the sustainability of the public debt as that will become a Eurozone responsibility.

Colm McCarthy contrasts the lack of transparency about the banking disaster with an example from the US:

The lack of transparency points to deeper issues that will no doubt endure.

Brian Cowen in 2009 told the Dáil, that the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act was being abused by long-winded requests.

He said public servants were being forced to spend an inordinate amount of time “trawling through” files when they could be doing other work.

“It is an expensive and time-consuming aspect of Government work,” he said.

“I have no problem whatsoever with the legitimate use of the Freedom of Information Act for individual citizens or, indeed, for others,

“However, the idea of the department trawling every question that comes in from people who, perhaps, regard the departments of State as a source of generating information was not within the contemplation of the Freedom of Information Act and, to be honest; it is an abuse of the process,” he added.

“trawling through” files!!

This from the Finfacts archives, also from the distant days of 2009 when Opposition leaders queried the status quo that now seems rather comfortable for them:

At the MacGill Summer School last July, Enda Kenny asked why do we have a budgetary system in place that is unfit to run a corner-shop, let alone a nation of 4 million people?

“Has it anything to with the replacement of accountability in the public service by a new cosy relationship between ministers, senior civil servants, trade unions, Government agencies and regulators?” he asked.

Eamon Gilmore told the recent meeting of his party’s parliamentary party, in Faithlegg, Co Waterford: “It is not enough just to think and talk about economic recovery: we must communicate our vision as to what it is for.”

He said the party needed to set out strategies on the economy, on reforming the public services and on political reform.

The author of Kenny’s question should keep asking why?

@Michael Hennigan

More on Gilmore:

Gilmore to tell leaders of ‘urgent’ need deal with ECB on debt
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will today address EU and Latin American world leaders on the “urgent need for an appropriate deal with the ECB on Ireland’s bank debt”.

In his address this morning to the EU-Latin America summit in Chile, the Tánaiste will tell EU leaders that “failure to conclude negotiations on the promissory note would have a potentially catastrophic effect on Ireland”, his department said.

He will also speak of the need for solidarity and certainty in Europe.

How the language has changed recently

Must Read: Stephen Donnelly’s realist pragmatism in Sindo

If we expect little, you can be sure we’ll get it

The spin on a possible troika deal obscured some potentially very bad news, writes Stephen Donnelly

Worth noting, AGAIN, that the Kiel Institute for World Economy reckons Ireland needs write off of 50 Billion to become sustainable – signals suggest nothing even approaching one fifth of this!

Blind Biddy is back from Davos.

Con Horan, the man in charge of supervising Anglo Irish Bank and Irish Nationwide for the Financial Regulator during the final years of the property bubble, is set to stay on in Europe for an indefinite further period of time.

Horan originally was appointed to the European Banking Authority (EBA) on a two-year secondment funded by the Central Bank, which was due to end in April.

“In response to your query, Con Horan’s secondment will continue with the European Banking Authority in line with the Central Bank’s strategy to support new European Supervisory Authorities,” the Central Bank said in a statement. It declined to comment further.

Horan’s role with the EBA has been described by the media as a “national expert,” with the new London-based supervisory authority for European financial institutions.

The Central Bank, however, was unable to confirm what his title was other than it was a senior position.

No comment!

@ David O’Donnell

“It’s not an issue of being in the markets, it’s an issue of at what price,” Noonan told Bloomberg News in Davos last week. “We don’t want to go back into the market and fall back out of it again.”

Michael Noonan sang to a different tune in London in Dec 2011 when he said he was targeting “full re-entry” to the bond market by mid-2013.

“My key message to you is that we want to move out of the European Union-International Monetary Fund program and return to the markets at the earliest opportunity,” Noonan said. “I intend that Ireland will give Europe its first success story as the recessionary cycle moves back in the right direction.”

“I would stress that there is no question whatsoever about our sovereign signature,” he said.

“Our recovery is export-led, and on the back of increases in export levels of 6.3% in 2010 and an estimated 4.6% increase in 2011, exports are at record levels. The pharmaceuticals, software, financial services, business services and food sectors all performing especially well.”

The policy makers back in Europe will likely put Gilmore’s sudden desperation down to jet lag.

What next? Mario Draghi is dismissed as a clerk!

Gilmore had to learn that Trichet was more than a “mere civil servant”

Irish Times, Jan 02, 2013:

Mr Gilmore believes the recession will have ended by 2014 and that the political and economic landscape will alter radically.

“We believe that we are now at a stage where we can start looking forward. We have been mired in economic recession. As we move into 2013, we will be able to look beyond that crisis.

“My parting words to the parliamentary party was when we come back in 2013 we will need to be talking and thinking about what post-recession Ireland will look like. I see enormous potential. The EU presidency absolutely parallels what we are doing, concentrating on jobs and growth and trade,” he said.

@Michael Hennigan

They appear at times not to have a tactic, let alone a strategy. Wonder do they know the difference?

But what really annoys me is the spinning – as if we were all eegits.

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