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Reply #16: Europe Short on Cash as Bond Fears Deepen [View All]

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xchrom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Nov-23-11 07:16 AM
Response to Reply #13
16. Europe Short on Cash as Bond Fears Deepen
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/0,1518,79939...

Josef Ackermann is a busy man this autumn. Hardly a day goes by that the Deutsche Bank chief, despite his impending departure from the bank, doesn't hold a speech on the current financial crisis that has gripped Europe. And more often than not, his talk centers on the immense problems faced by the sovereign bond market. Nobody, it would seem, wants state bonds anymore.

Germany's top banker is not alone with his concern about the problem. The entire financial world is in turmoil this autumn. Once seen as iron-clad investments, state bonds are no longer seen as secure -- particularly since the European Union agreed to a 50 percent debt haircut for Greece in October. It can, warned Andreas Schmidt, president of the Association of German Banks, earlier this week, no longer be taken for granted that countries can turn to the capital markets to finance their budgets.

The truth of Schmidt's statement became readily apparent this week. On Tuesday, Spain auctioned off three-month and six-month bonds, a sale that in normal times would be quick and easy. Interest rates of 3 to 4 percent on such sales are normal. But this week, Madrid had to pay 5.11 percent and 5.23 percent respectively, the highest it has had to pay on such bonds in 14 years -- and up significantly from the 3.30 percent it paid on six-month paper as recently as October 25. Even Greece didn't have to pay as much on a similar offering recently.

And the problem isn't just limited to indebted euro-zone countries. Banks too have run into difficulties as a result of the sudden aversion to sovereign bonds. Most of them, after all, have significant amounts of sovereign bonds on their balance sheets -- making other banks extremely wary of lending to them. Indeed, the European Central Bank said on Tuesday that 178 banks borrowed 247 billion in one-week loans from the ECB -- the most since early 2009 when the last financial crisis was at its peak.
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