• While the Stock Markets Are Flying into Orbit, the Crisis Goes on

  • Joachim Bischoff | 20 Sep 12 | Posted under: Contemporary Capitalism , European Union
  • After the European Central Bank (ECB) had decided a new programme to buy bonds of states hit by the crisis and subject to a programme of austerity, the stock markets burst into euphoric fireworks. Does that signify that with the new stage of fiscal politics the Gordian knot of the persistent crisis of the Euro-zone has finally been cut through?

    No doubt: There is a change of direction and this leads to a considerable increase of the ECB’s power. But does this coup of the ECB also lead to transition into a calmer phase of development? Massive doubts must be raised, since already the effects of the implementation of the ECB’s arsenal (“Bazooka”) twice at the end of the previous year have quickly vaporised.

    Only a few months later, bankers and politicians again complained about the growing exclusion of banks and companies from the European credit system. And financial institutions in the crisis-ridden countries were again facing strong refinancing problems.

    German banks in particular have in recent years notably reduced their risks in the Euro-countries, especially in the crisis-ridden countries of the Euro-zone. If German banks still had claims on Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain amounting to 522 billion Euros, these claims had melted down to only 283 Euros by June. The withdrawal of financial means, which was not limited to German banks, is increased by flight of capital from those countries.

    According to calculations by a US-NGO, about 261 billion dollars (almost 207 billion Euros) of unreported money have since the year 2003 been transferred abroad from Greece alone. And the Italian note-bank assumes that in the past two and a half years about 300 billion Euros have flown abroad.

    There is much to suggest that by the recent ECB decisions merely more time was bought. This time, once again, sustainable anti-crisis approaches have not been implemented. The temporary alleviations will be dissipated over time, even though their effect will last longer than the loans granted in long-term refinancing operations (LTRO). More comprehensive measures cannot only consist in measures stabilising the European financial system, but a suspension of austerity politics would have to take place as a consequence of political change, with the implementation of a future-oriented economic structure by means of a state-financed programme of investments and growth in Europe. This would be an economic structure not characterised by further evading an orientation towards the domestic market and an even stronger transition towards intensified competition.


    Abbreviated english version

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