In various discussions at FDL folks have opined on possible solutions to the European Banking Crisis, which — at the moment — is primarily represented by Greece’s inability to repay its creditors, who happen to be European banks, mainly in France and Germany. One of the most obvious possibilities is for the Greek creditors — the German and French banks — to take “haircuts” on the Greek debt. To date, the banks have “voluntarily” agreed to do so to the tune of 21%. I put voluntarily in quotes because the banks agreed under the duress of an outright Greek default and because there is immense financial and political pressure that Greece not default. Why? Because that will trigger adverse consequences across the Eurozone banking system, adverse consequences will almost certainly extend to the United States banking system. In other words, Greece is the hostage but nobody can kill Greece without destroying themselves. Greece is like the corpse at Uncle Bernie’s beach house. So everyone worked things out in a civilized manner as gentlemen and the banks agreed to 21% losses, the credit agencies agreed this did not constitute a default event because it was “voluntary,” and everyone was happy.
Unfortunately, the Greek corpse continued to deteriorate and the most recent discussions suggest losses as high as 60%, which takes us from “haircut” into decapitation territory. Ironically — or perhaps to illustrate the absurdity of what is underway — it is a current Greek official who argues that the banks losses be capped at 21%. Think about that: we have a Greek government official arguing that his bankrupt country must pay more to its bondholders.
Restructuring Greece’s debt to help the country recover must not veer far from a July rescue deal which involved a voluntary participation of private creditors, a senior adviser to Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou said on Saturday. Lucas Papademos, a former vice-president at the European Central Bank, said that using the July 21 deal as a template would be the most prudent way to tackle the debt crisis. Imposing deeper haircuts on bondholders could render the scheme non-voluntary, posing risks to the broader euro zone, Papademos wrote in an article in Sunday’s To Vima newspaper.
With German taxpayers money apparently off the table, the Europeans (the Greeks themselves!) are arguing that additional bank losses come off the table as well. So what does that leave as a solution?
Obviously, this is a job for Tim Geithner and Wall Street Wizards. So let’s sit back and watch closely from here on out or else it will once again be American taxpayer money that saves the financial system from itself. It was bad enough when it was American banks on Wall Street but that at least had the patina of self-interest on it. It is far worse when we are expected to transfer our wealth to foreign banks. In a sense, however, it does illustrate that it is no longer nations or political entities that rule the planet: it is the Global Financial Elite, who are in London and Mumbai and Paris and Beijing and Brazilia and Rome and Athens and New York and Washington, D.C.
The One Percent are dispersed but the 99% are everywhere.