Euroland has apparently decided that things are getting out of hand and it’s time to flex a muscle or two. They’ve come up, reportedly, with a pretty aggressive plan to restore the status quo.
Bloomberg has as many details as anyone right now. Here are the highlights:
European policy makers unveiled an unprecedented loan package worth almost $1 trillion and a program of bond purchases as they spearheaded a global drive to stop a sovereign-debt crisis that threatened to shatter confidence in the euro.
Jolted into action by last week’s slide in the currency and soaring bond yields in Portugal and Spain, the 16 euro nations agreed to offer financial assistance worth as much as 750 billion euros ($962 billion) to countries under attack from speculators. The European Central Bank will counter “severe tensions” in “certain” markets by purchasing government and private debt.
“The message has gotten through: the euro zone will defend its money,” French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde told reporters in Brussels early today after the 14-hour meeting.
There’s a lot to absorb here and the details — where the devil of course lurks — are sketchy at this point, so I won’t opine too much. Suffice it to say that they have set up a fund to provide “assistance” to countries within the EU and have said that the ECB will purchase both public and private debt. In other words, this is their TARP slush fund combined with a commitment to quantitative easing. Naturally there are all sorts of fiscally responsible statements regarding austerity measures on the part of recipients of this bailout which will never come to pass.
Just a side note, but it’s worth noting that the IMF is joining in to the tune of 250 billion euros. Keep in mind that 40% of those funds come from us. Why the EU which has a GDP approximately the size of the US should be receiving this aid has yet to be explained. I suppose we can take some solice in the hope that if California fails we will be able to tap them for similar assistance. Or maybe not, as they might well be tapped out after this bet.
Sorting all of this out is going to be interesting. Somehow, I have this feeling that Europe has taken a turn down a fork in a road that might well lead them someplace they’ll regret going. At the very least they have altered the nature of their monetary, social and political union in a crisis atmosphere with little forethought other than staving off default by a relatively meaningless member of that union.