Tag Archives: Bank resolution

Monte dei Paschi Bail-X

The Economist reports about plans for Monte dei Paschi’s future:

… retail investors in the bank’s junior bonds, many of them ordinary customers. European state-aid rules say that they should lose their money along with shareholders. Technically, they will. In fact, to preserve their savings and avoid a political outcry, they will be deemed to have been “mis-sold” the bonds: they will receive shares which will in turn be swapped for new, safer bonds.

Italy has to come up with a restructuring plan, likely to involve job losses and branch closures, for the commission’s approval. (The ECB must also certify the bank’s solvency.) Bosses’ pay will be capped at ten times the staff average. And Monte dei Paschi must sell its sofferenze, the worst category of non-performing exposures, which in March amounted to 24% of all its loans. A state guarantee will cover senior tranches of these securitised debts. Atlante 2, a fund backed by Italian financial institutions, and others are negotiating with the bank over more junior slices.

Single Resolution Board and Banco Popular Bailin

In the FT, Martin Arnold, Tobias Buck, and Rachel Sanderson discuss the significance of the Banco Popular bailin.

The Single Resolution Board was created at the start of 2015 as a pan-European authority for dealing with failing banks. Since then however, the institution has remained almost entirely untested. Now with Banco Popular it has shown its teeth at last. The SRB, chaired by Elke Koenig, acted swiftly after it was informed by the European Central Bank that Popular was “failing or likely to fail” on Tuesday. It imposed heavy losses on shareholders and junior bondholders before transferring Popular’s remaining equity to Santander for only €1. The move is an unprecedented step as it imposes losses for the first time on holders of alternative tier one (AT1) securities — the riskiest bonds in a bank’s capital structure that are designed to absorb losses in a crisis.

European Monetary Union: A Status Report

In the NZZ (August 7, 2015), René Höltschi provides an excellent overview over the status of European Monetary Union (EMU).


  • EMU combines centralized monetary policy authority with decentralized fiscal powers. This creates the risk that national governments try to free ride.
  • Heterogeneity across Euro Zone member states renders centralized monetary policy difficult. Without national monetary policy instruments, prices and wages need to adjust more in the face of asynchronous business cycles.

Previous solutions:

  • The stability and growth pact was meant to address the first issue. It failed, for political reasons. Markets didn’t impose sufficient discipline either; they anticipated bailouts.
  • Hopes for reduced heterogeneity—as a consequence of EMU—have been shattered.

Reforms so far:

  • During the crisis, member states established rescue funds and agreed on various crisis measures.
  • They pursued a two-pronged strategy. On the one hand, they tried to build on the decentralized approach of the Maastricht treaty. On the other, they aimed at closer integration in the form of banking, fiscal and eventually, political union.
  • Major responsibilities in the area of banking supervision and resolution have been transferred to the European Central Bank. Bail-in procedures have been agreed upon.
  • No major changes occurred in the fiscal policy domain. The “Six-pack” and “Two-pack” measures to strengthen fiscal discipline, coordination and supervision have proved ineffective (e.g., no action against France).

Proposals and discussion:

  • The recent “Five-presidents’ report” distinguishes between short-term (until 2017) and longer-term (until 2025) measures (see below). The report proposes to strengthen the existing framework before moving towards closer integration (Euro treasury, macroeconomic stabilization, fiscal and political union). France and Italy have voiced support.
  • Fiscal union entails a common budget and potentially, a common unemployment insurance. Unity of liability and control would require that fiscal competences are centralized as well. In turn, this would require changes of the European treaties.
  • A further strengthening of banking union, e.g. delegation of banking supervision to a newly created European authority (rather than the European Central Bank), also would require treaty changes.
  • But throughout Europe, there is no desire to delegate powers to “Brussels.”
  • Instead, skeptics like the Bundesbank or the German Council of Economic Experts advocate a bankruptcy procedure for Euro-zone governments: to strengthen discipline and encourage monitoring by financial markets any assistance by the European Stability Mechanism should be preceded by private creditor bail-ins (extensions of maturity, haircuts).
  • Some observers also advocate exit from the Euro zone as an ultima ratio measure. But others argue that this very possibility would undermine the stability of the Euro area.

Five-president’s report:

  • Commissioned in October 2014 by the heads of state and government, the report has been published in June 2015 by presidents Jean-Claude Juncker (European commission), Donald Tusk (European council), Jeroen Dijsselbloem (Euro group), Mario Draghi (European Central Bank) and Martin Schulz (European parliament).
  • In the short term, the report proposes: to improve elements of the previous “six-pack” and “two-pack” reforms, including streamlined coordination and supervision of national fiscal policies;
  • a common backstop for national deposit insurance systems;
  • a European fiscal council serving as watchdog; and
  • independent national agencies to monitor competitiveness.
  • For the longer term, the report proposes: completion of monetary union and fiscal union;
  • macroeconomic stabilization, stopping short of permanent transfers or income equalization schemes; and
  • a Euro zone treasury.
  • Accountability as well as the role of national parliaments and the European parliament in coordinating fiscal policy is to be strengthened. The Euro zone is to be better represented vis-a-vis third parties. Intergovernmental arrangements (for example the European Stability Mechanism) that were created during the crisis are to become integral parts of the EU treaties.

The Brussels Agreement of 13 July 2015

Graeme Wearden in The Guardian summarizes the results of the Euro summit that ended with no Grexit:

An agreement has finally been reached in Brussels after almost 17 hours of talks, Europe’s longest-ever summit. A deal on the new bailout for Greece has still to be thrashed out, however. Here are the key points:

Greek assets transfer

Up to €50bn (£35bn) worth of Greek assets will be transferred to a new fund, which will contribute to the recapitalisation of Greek banks. The fund will be based in Athens, not Luxembourg as the Germans had originally demanded.

The location of the fund was a key sticking point in the marathon overnight talks. Transferring the assets out of Greece would have meant “liquidity asphyxiation”, said the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras.

Bridging finance

Talks will begin immediately on bridging finance to avert the collapse of Greece’s banking system and help cover its debt repayments this summer. Greece must repay more than €7bn to the ECB in July and August, before any bailout cash can be handed over.

Debt restructuring

Greece has been promised discussions on restructuring its debts. The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said the Eurogroup was ready to consider extending the maturity on Greek loans. There is now no need for a Plan B, she added.

New legislation

The Greek parliament must approve the deal before the German bundestag votes. It must also start passing legislation straight away to implement the agreed measures.

Creditors have insisted on immediate action on:

  1. Streamlining VAT
  2. Broadening the tax base
  3. Making further reforms to the pension system
  4. Adopt a code of civil procedure
  5. Safeguarding of legal independence for Greece ELSTAT — the statistic office
  6. Full implementation of automatic spending cuts
  7. Meet bank recovery and resolution directive

Radical reforms

Tsipras pledged to implement radical reforms to ensure that the Greek oligarchy finally makes a fair contribution. The agreement thrashed out overnight would allow Greece to “stand on our feet again”.

Implementation of reforms would be tough, the Greek prime minister said, but: “We fought hard abroad, we must now fight at home against vested interests.”

He added: “The measures are recessionary, but we hope that putting Grexit to bed means inward investment can begin to flow, negating them.”

Updates and additional links

More from the GuardianAn assessment by an analyst.

The official Euro summit statement.