Officials in Berlin told The Telegraph it is “more likely than not” that investors will suffer fresh losses on holdings of Greek debt, beyond the 21pc haircut agreed in July.
The exact level will depend on findings by the EU-IMF “Troika” in Athens.
“A lot has happened since July. Greece has fallen back on its commitments, so we have to assume that the 21pc cut is no longer enough,” said one source.
Finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble told the Frankfurter Allgemeine that the original haircuts were “probably” too low, saying banks must have “sufficient capital” to cover greater losses if need be. Estimates near 60pc have been circulating in Berlin.
The shift in German policy has ominous echoes of last year when Chancellor Angela Merkel first called for bondholder haircuts, setting off investor flight from Ireland and a fresh spasm in the EU debt crisis.
It’s not just the Europeans, of course. U.S. banks are sitting on tens of billions in Greek debt, but the whole thing is one big knot of pain: French banks hold a ton of Greek debt, and guess who holds a lot of French bank debt? U.S. banks, that’s who, with Morgan Stanley alone facing some $39 billion in exposure. As usual, Goldman Sachs is thought to be ahead of the curve — it helped to restructure the Greek debt, and apparently got good and scared by what it saw.
But keep in mind: This isn’t Europe’s problem. This is your problem, Sunshine:
The latest round of American financial assistance came Thursday with a promise by the Federal Reserve to swap as many dollars for euros as European bankers need. In the short run, those transactions won’t have much impact because the central banks are simply swapping currencies of equal value. If the move helps avert a wider crisis, it could help spare the global economy from another recession.
But over the long term, consumers could feel the impact of central bankers flooding the financial system with cash, according to John Ryding, chief economist at RDQ Economics.
“This is a lender of last resort function,” he told CNBC. “With the dollar injections that the Fed has done, it’s like giving a patient medicine with really bad side effects.” Ryding said the bad side effect in the U.S. has been inflation, which has picked up to 3.8 percent year over year.
The bailouts never end.