European monetary system and european currency

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24. Second, the "taxpayers' money solution". Taxpayers have been forced to shoulder banks' losses in the past, when public authorities felt that otherwise the failure of a large portion of a country's banking system or of a single significant institution would have disrupted financial stability and caused negative macroeconomic consequences. In such instances banks have been taken over by the state, or their bad assets have been transferred to a separate public entity to attract new private investment in the sound part of the otherwise failed banks. The US savings & loans crisis of the 1980s, the banking crises in Scandinavia in the early 1990s and the current banking crises in Japan and some East-Asian countries are examples of system-wide insolvency problems that have triggered taxpayers' support. Crйdit Lyonnais and Banco di Napoli are recent examples of public support to individual insolvency problems.

The introduction of the euro leaves crisis management actions involving taxpayers' money practically unaffected. The option of injecting equity or other funds remains available for the Member States, since these operations are not forbidden by the Treaty. Nevertheless, the European Commission will be directly involved in scrutinising and authorising such actions, since any state aid must be compatible with the Community's competition legislation. This happened, for example, in the cases of Banco di Napoli and Crйdit Lyonnais.

The handling of solvency crises is not within the competence of the national central banks nor that of the ECB, although national central banks are likely to be consulted, as they have been in the past.

25. Third, the "central bank money solution". This is the lender-of-last-resort issue that has brought the Eurosystem under vigorous criticism by distinguished academics and the IMF's Capital Markets Division of the Research Department. The criticism has been that the alleged absence of a clear and transparent mechanism to act in an emergency raises doubts in the markets about the ability of the Eurosystem to handle crisis situations. It is said that the uncertainty generated by the present arrangements would entail new risks, including the possibility of investors requiring an additional risk premium at times of financial market volatility and, ultimately, of the credibility of EMU being damaged. Two examples of these concerns deserve an explicit mention. The IMF "Report on Capital Markets", September 1998, stated that "it is unclear how a bank crisis would be handled under the current institutional framework …which is not likely to be sustainable". Similarly, the first report of the CEPR (Centre for Economic Policy Research) on monitoring the ECB entitled "The ECB: Safe at Any Speed?" expressly suggested that the Eurosystem lacks crisis management capacity and is too rigid to pass the A-Class test to keep the vehicle on the road at the first steep turn in financial market conditions in Europe.

26. My response to this criticism is threefold. To my mind, the criticism reflects a notion of lender-of-last-resort operations that is largely outdated; it underestimates the Eurosystem's capacity to act; and, finally, it represents too mechanistic a view of how a crisis is, and should be, managed in practice.

27. The notion of a central bank's lender-of-last-resort function dates back more than 120 years, to the time of Bagehot. This notion refers to emergency lending to institutions that, although solvent, suffer a rapid liquidity outflow due to a sudden collapse in depositors' confidence, i.e. a classic bank run. A bank could be exposed to depositors' panic even if solvent because of the limited amount of bank liquidity and an information asymmetry between the depositors and the bank concerning the quality of bank's assets that do not have a secondary market value.

Nowadays and in our industrial economies, runs may occur mainly in textbooks. They have little relevance in reality because, since Bagehot, many antidotes have been adopted: deposit insurance, the regulation of capital adequacy and large exposures, improved licensing and supervisory standards all contribute to the preservation of depositors' confidence and minimise the threat of a contagion from insolvent to solvent institutions.

A less unlikely case is a rapid outflow of uninsured interbank liabilities. However, since interbank counterparties are much better informed than depositors, this event would typically require the market to have a strong suspicion that the bank is actually insolvent. If such a suspicion were to be unfounded and not generalised, the width and depth of today's interbank market is such that other institutions would probably replace (possibly with the encouragement of the public authorities as described above) those which withdraw their funds. It should be noted, in this respect, that the emergence of the single euro money market lowers banks' liquidity risk, because the number of possible sources of funds is now considerably larger than in the past.

Реферат опубликован: 12/08/2008