Saturday, January 14, 2012

Present ECB risks from the coming Greek default.

Der Spiegel has a good analysis of the unfolding problems this weekend for the ECB, linked here, of which this is a small quote:

Since May 2010, the ECB has purchased sovereign bonds from crisis-stricken euro-zone member states worth €213 billion. An estimated €55 billion of that are Greek bonds. Such widespread bond purchases have resulted in sharp critique from financial experts.
But the ECB is also carrying much higher risks. They stem from the collateral that banks must post when they borrow money from the ECB. Often, that collateral consists of sovereign bonds from the countries where the banks are located. As such, when Greek banks borrow from the ECB, they post Greek sovereign bonds as collateral. Increasingly, however, they are taking advantage of the ability to issue bonds themselves, which are then guaranteed by the Greek state. Those bonds too are accepted by the ECB as collateral.
In the last three-and-a-half years, financial institutions from debt-stricken euro-zone countries such as Greece, Portugal and Ireland have borrowed extensively from the ECB. Since the peak of the financial crisis in 2008, the ECB has provided euro-zone banks with unprecedented amounts of liquidity. In December, the ECB flooded European banks with additional capital with unusually long loan periods of three years -- an influx of fully €500 billion. The loans were processed by national central banks in the euro zone.
The ECB does not publicize official numbers regarding which bank borrowed money, nor do they make amounts public. But Greek banks currently have few options when it comes to accessing fresh liquidity. Other banks have simply stopped lending them money. And Greeks have likewise begun pulling their capital out of Greek banks to deposit it in more secure accounts abroad.
'Immeasurably Large' (read on from the link for worse news)

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