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Germany

Bundestag Band-Aid: The Latest Act In Europe's Debt Crisis Bluff-A-Thon

Op-Ed: Three cheers! The relevant EU states approved the new euro bailout package. There’s just one problem: everybody knows the money is not enough, which is why they are already planning their next steps. Why are politicians ignoring the truth and playi

French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel
French President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Merkel
Hans-Jürgen Jakobs<

MUNICH - The Greek bailout package is a case of coming to the rescue after the rescue. Now that all the relevant EU states have approved the rescue fund, vehement debate has started about how to leverage a few more billion euros with the new framework.

Starting this week, the Eurozone's finance ministers are going to be working on money creation concepts -- or how to finance debt with more debt, and buy enough time until the moment finally comes when emergency measures have to be undertaken to help those euro countries that have been living way beyond their means.

A first step is the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), as the rescue umbrella is known in the technocratic language of the finance eggheads. Again, measured against the size of Greece's money woes, it is a tiny umbrella indeed.

In any case, last week, Germany's lower house of parliament -- the Bundestag -- approved increasing effective financial help to 440 billion euros since the initially proposed 250 billion would not be enough. And while most of the experts dealing with the Greek mess know that too will not be enough, ways are being sought to leverage that money – with obligations, of course.

Pumping capitalism, kicking cans

This is a new variation of the ‘pump capitalism" that in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis led leading market economies to the abyss. One current model entertains the use of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs) – the very mechanisms that a few years ago were responsible for exporting the U.S. real estate market disaster to other countries.

Are financial products of this type really the solution? The EFSF fund would, at least in the imaginations of apologists of the dangerous products, guarantee some yet-to-be-created entities that would buy and sell bonds, with varying degrees of risk and interest, of troubled countries like Greece.

Another idea has also recently come under discussion: granting the EFSF a banking license. That way, for example, it could buy Greek bonds, deposit them at the European Central Bank (ECB) and get more money to acquire more such bonds.

This is the dangerous "leverage" that could create 3.5 billion euros from the 440 billion, and which German Central Bank president Jens Weidmann is condemning.

It is to be feared that whatever creations the EFSF comes up with, risks to stability in the Euro zone will rise. Europe‘s debt fighters are manifestly trying to survive this year and 2012, before rolling out the big gun in 2013: the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). Only that, the governments believe, will make it possible for them to deal with what is already being talked about now: Greece's bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, Greece's creditors may be facing a haircut of up to 50%. First, however, we need to wait a few weeks and see what the representatives of the ECB, the EU Commission and the IMF – the so-called "troika" – come up with after their inspection tour in Athens. Drama feeds on drama.

The problem is being kicked down the proverbial road like the proverbial can. The time to pay will come later. In the business world, what is happening here would be considered delaying bankruptcy.

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eyes on the U.S.

Eyes On U.S. — California, The World Is Worried About You

As an Italian bestseller explores why people are fleeing the Golden State, the international press also takes stock of unprecedented Silicon Valley layoffs. It may be a warning for the rest of the world.

Photo of a window pane with water droplets reflecting Facebook's thumb up logo, with one big thumb down in the background

Are you OK, Meta?

Ginevra Falciani and Bertrand Hauger

-Analysis-

For as long as we can remember, the world has seen California as the embodiment of the American Dream.

Today, this dream may be fading — and the world is taking notice.

A peek at the Italian list of non-fiction best-sellers in 2022 includes California by Francesco Costa, a book that looks to explain why 340,000 people moved out of the state last year, causing a drop in its population for the first time ever.

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Why are all these people leaving a state that on paper looks like the best place in the world to live? Why are stickers with the phrase “Don't California my Texas” attached to the back of so many pick-up trucks?

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