Euro crisis: “This might be the last chance to bring stability back to the European’s financial system…”

The day after the details of Ireland’s bail-out were revealed, the BBC notes the markets’ reaction

On Sunday, ministers reached agreement over a bail-out worth about 85bn euros ($113bn; £72bn).

On Monday, the euro fell 0.8% to $1.3136, its lowest since 21 September.

And Irish, Spanish and Portuguese bond yields remained stubbornly high, indicating the market is not convinced European debt problems have gone away.

Meanwhile, major European markets were also lower in midday trade.

The euro also fell against the pound, to 84.15p, its weakest since late September.

The BBC’s Europe editor, Gavin Hewitt, spotted something in yesterday’s small-print

In May, when Greece was bailed out, the rescue package was for three years until 2013.

At the time some asked ‘what would happen then?’

The markets did the sums. The conclusion was that Greece might just succeed in reducing its deficit but its debt mountain most probably would have risen.

So Greece would have been given ‘time-out’ by the bail-out but when it returned to the field of play it would be back where it started.

Scroll forward to yesterday and the Irish bail-out. Slipped in quietly was the news that maturities of the Greek bail-out loan would be extended.

The Greek government had been pushing for it and almost everyone expected it.

Confronting the reality of the giant black hole of debt has been pushed further into the future.

As he adds

Ireland is a country of under five million people. It has taken on a massive loan at a rate of 5.8%. How will it afford to pay it back the interest and pay off the earlier debts?

Growth may return to Ireland sooner than Greece, but while Europe’s politicians declare the euro has been protected the reality for countries like Greece and Ireland is years of increasing debt and austerity.

Europe’s leaders, who have recently added a tone of desperation in their comments about the euro’s future, have taken refuge in the long game while hoping that something turns up that enables countries such as Ireland and Greece to reduce their debts.

An iol report notes the somewhat patronising comments by European Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs, Olli Rehn.

Mr Rehn commented: “Ireland has hit a very deep economic recession resulting from the financial crisis, which hit Ireland because of its credit boom and real estate bubble.

“But the economy will face up to serious challenges. Ireland has a flexible and open economy which is capable of rebounding relatively rapidly from this recession.”

The Commissioner added: “It is encouraging for Ireland and for the whole of Europe that Ireland has such support (from the EU).

“The Irish are smart, resilient and stubborn people. They will get over this challenge and the EU supports them in that.”

RTÉ adds

The EU Commissioner for Economic Affairs, Olli Rehn, has said that it would not be advisable for any new government in Ireland to attempt to renegotiate either the interest rate on the EU/IMF loan or the use of the National Pension Reserve Fund in repairing the banking sector.

In an interview with RTÉ News, Commissioner Rehn said it did not want to involve himself in democratic politics in Ireland, but he said: ‘They are key parts of the programme so I would not advise re-opening these’.

So no teasing with “false choices”.

And The Guardian reports that, despite the extension granted to Greece, the French economy minister is blaming “irrational” markets for the reaction

French economy minister Christine Lagarde said the Irish rescue deal was “sufficient” and that “irrational” markets were not correctly pricing the sovereign debt situation in Europe.

“The amount [of the bailout] is sufficient because that will keep Ireland afloat for three years,” she told RTL radio. “I am confident in the ability of the Portuguese government to implement a rigorous [austerity] plan.”

Lagarde said it was wrong to price the cost of Spanish debt at the same level as more risky countries such as Pakistan and Romania.

“Europe is difficult to understand for the markets. They work in an irrational way sometimes,” she said.

Oscar Bernal, an economist at ING, said: “Overall, the plan should allow Ireland to meet the repayment schedule and we are confident that now that European leaders announced a formal crisis resolution mechanism, the Irish bailout will eventually contribute to calm market fears regarding a possible contagion to other eurozone countries. This might be the last chance to bring stability back to the European’s financial system.”

Come on, Frau Bundeskanzerlin, history’s knocking…

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  • This has bought some time to 2013 perhaps. By Merkel saying she expects Bondholders to take some risk post 2013 this will inevitably push up interest rates to those countries with higher ‘risk’ within the Eurozone. This will create crisis #2. The only way to resolve this would be to wholly integrate, with the ECB running things for the whole of the Eurozone, at which time Ireland becomes the equivalent of a German Lander. Alternatively, Ireland leaves the Euro, defaults and devalues – but by then that would be a real crisis and who then would lend?

    Probably, there are some inbetween positions, and the Eurozone countries have until 2013 to come up with something that has the capacity to bring some long-term stability. Leaving others to provide those possibilities.