venerdì, agosto 22, 2008

Scricchiolii spagnoli

Mentre le Borse festeggiano l'interesse coreano per Lehman Brothers, dalla BCE arrivano segni di allarme per il modo in cui le banche europee, soprattutto spagnole, starebbero usando le linee di liquidità di "emergenza" come una fonte di finanziamento stabile per i propri pericolanti portafogli immobiliari, invece di impegnarsi in una inevitabile e dolorosa ristrutturazione. Il problema non è nuovo ed ora sta assumendo proporzioni imbarazzanti, ma la responsabilità è in buona parte della BCE stessa, talmente ansiosa di salvare le banche che supervisoina e regolamenta, da permettere ai banchieri di approfittarne di nuovo.

Bank borrowing from ECB is out of control
By Ambrose Evans.

Article touches on the comments from ECB's Nout Wellink today inan interview with the Dutch financial daily, Dagblad.The European Central Bank has issued the clearest warning to date that itcannot serve as a perpetual crutch for lenders caught off-guard by the severityof the credit crunch.Not Wellink, the Dutch central bank chief and a major figure on the ECBcouncil, said that banks were becoming addicted to the liquidity window inFrankfurt and were putting the authorities in an invidious position."There is a limit how long you
can do this. There is a point where you takeover the market," he told Het Finacieele Dagblad, the Dutch financial daily.advertisement"If we see banks becoming very dependent on central banks, then we must push them to tap other sources of funding," he said.While he did not name the chief culprits, there are
growing concerns about thescale of ECB borrowing by small Spanish lenders and
'cajas' with heavy exposedto the country's property crash. Dutch banks have also
been hungry clients atthe ECB window.One ECB source told The Daily Telegraph
that over-reliance on the ECB funds hasbecome an increasingly bitter issue at
the bank because the policy amounts to acovert bail-out of lenders in southern
Europe."Nobody dares pinpoint the country involved because as soon as we do it
willcause a market reaction and lead to a meltdown for the banks," said the
source.This "soft bail-out" is largely underwritten by German and North
Europeantaxpayers, though it is occurring in a surreptitious way. It has become
aneuralgic issue for the increasingly tense politics of EMU.The latest data from
the Bank of Spain shows that the country's banks haveincreased their ECB
borrowing to a record €49.6bn (£39bn). A number havebeen issuing mortgage
securities for the sole purpose of drawing funds fromFrankfurt.These banks are
heavily reliant on short-term and medium funding from thecapital markets. This
spigot of credit is now almost entirely closed, making itvery hard to roll over
loans as they expire.The ECB has accepted a very wide range of mortgage
collateral from the start ofthe credit crunch. This is a key reason why the
eurozone has so far avoided amajor crisis along the lines of Bear Stearns or
Northern Rock.While this policy buys time, it leaves the ECB holding large
amounts ofquestionable debt and may be storing up problems for later.The
practice is also skirts legality and risks setting off a political storm.The
Maastricht treaty prohibits long-term taxpayer support of this kind for theEMU
banking system.Few officials thought this problem would arise. It was widely
presumed that thecapital markets would recover quickly, allowing distressed
lenders to return tonormal sources of funding. Instead, the credit crunch has
worsened in Europe.Not to miss out, Nationwide recently announced that it was
setting upoperations in Ireland, partly in order to be able to take advantage of
ECBliquidity if necessary. Any bank can tap ECB funds if they have a
registeredbranch in the eurozone, although collateral must be denominated in
euros.Jean-Pierre Roth, head of the Swiss National Bank, complained this week
thatlenders were getting into the habit of shopping for funds from
thoseauthorities that offer the best terms. The practice is playing havoc
monetarypolicy."What we should avoid is some kind of arbitrage by banks, which
say they aregoing to go to central bank X, instead of central bank Y, because
conditionsare more attractive," he said.

Fonte: Daily Telegraph

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