Saturday, December 17, 2011

ECB and NCBs again

Tyler Cowen has another post on the ECB financing sovereign governments via loans... It is finally being recognized that the eurozone made a major policy breakthrough:

My thoughts:

I don’t think the key here is arbitrage and government monetary financing. It’s about a slow bank run that has been enveloping Southern Europe for a few years now. The mechanism which governs intra-Euro payments requires Greek/Italian etc banks to “solve” for the bank run by submitting collateral to their national central bank in return for settlement balances. Much of this is done overnight or on a weekly basis. By establishing 3 year operations, the ECB is telling the banks and the rest of the world that they will continue to meet the demands of anyone running on the Southern European banks for the next 3 years. That sort of commitment to the system might be large enough to stop the bank run.

It’s similiar to how, in the old days, banks suffering bank runs would often bring out all their cash and gold from the vaults and put it on display behind the bank teller so that depositors, seeing the actual backing assets, would turn away. The ECB is putting its cash on display.

Relevant link: see this older post

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