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Week Ahead: hankering for a volatility-ending master plan
Our preview of the big financial events in the coming week.
If – as reported by Reuters – Spain formally requests eurozone bank aid on Saturday, what then?
That would make Spain the fourth eurozone country to seek assistance, and would come ahead of an International Monetary Fund audit of Spain’s banks, which is due on Monday.
But a banking bailout, say some analysts, could necessitate further aid to deal with Spain’s public finances as investors put increasing pressure on the country.
And it wouldn't after all be the overriding, all-encompassing eurozone master plan that investors crave.
In the past week monetary authorities around the world have delivered disappointments. The European Central Bank left the door open for a future rate cut, but ECB chief Mario Draghi called on politicians to act instead. In the US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke again floated the idea of more monetary support, but was vague and markets ultimately gave his comments the thumbs down. Nor did the Bank of England act.
Only China took serious measures in the past week, but investors fear rate cuts there only herald poor economic data this weekend.
What investors want is the wholesale banking and fiscal union that will involve so much compromise from those eurozone nations that are reluctant to give up any sovereignty.
A German government official summed up Europe’s dilemma last week: ‘The fundamental question is relatively simple. Do our partners really want more Europe, or do they just want more German money?’
This dilemma is epitomised by this week’s front cover of the Economist, showing a sinking ship called ‘The World Economy’ with a question bubble: ‘Please can we start the engines now, Mrs Merkel?’
The German leader has in the last week herself said that she was poised to take action. ‘It is important to stress again that we have created the instruments for support in the eurozone and that Germany is ready to use these instruments whenever it may prove necessary.’
Beyond a Spanish banking plan, hopes lie with an EU summit at the end of June. But even that may not yield the results that are hoped for.
‘I don't believe that there will be one single summit that will decide on a big bang,’ Merkel said, according to a separate report. ‘But what we have been doing for some time, and on which a working plan will certainly be presented in June, is to say we need more Europe.’
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