Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Response of Central Banks to the European Crisis

Though there is a lot of economic news, the most important news still revolves around the European debt crisis.  As stress in the global financial system increase, major central banks around the world announced a coordinated response to ensure that there is enough liquidity in the financial system in order to avoid a repeat of 2008.  Optimists can be hopeful that policymakers are taking pre-emptive action to avoid a severe crisis.  Pessimists can worry that the situation is dire enough to require a coordinated global response.  Evidence of the seriousness of the situation include S&P's downgrade of major banks, lack of interbanking lending in Europe (reflecting lack of trusts in the European banking system), rising risk premiums throughout the eurozone (record high bond yields in Italy, Spain, etc.), a significant increase in German bond yields (what used to be considered the risk-free benchmark in Europe), high risk premiums on investment-grade corporate bonds in the US, etc.  For more details on how credit has tightened globally, check out the NY Times article, "Crisis in Europe Tightens Credit Across the Globe."  Meanwhile, leaders in Europe have recognized the need for an expanded role for the IMF and ECB to deal with the crisis.  In addition, Germany is pushing for stricter enforcement of budget rules for countries in the eurozone.

Meanwhile, the Chinese central bank announced a reduction in reserve requirements (the amount of despotsbanks need to maintain) for the first time in nearly 3 years in an attempt to bolster its economy.  Clearly, policymakers throughout the world are very concerned about another severe financial crisis and are being more pre-emptive to avoid a repeat of the financial and economic disaster that took place in late 2008 and early 2009.