European leaders promise plan to save eurozone banks
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Jeremy Hobson: In the world of financial news, you know you have a big story when government leaders meet on a Sunday. It’s a day when the big stock markets are closed, so there’s a little more breathing room for decision making. Well it was a Sunday meeting for the French President Nicholas Sarkozy and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And the headline is: they want to come up with a solution to the European debt crisis by the end of the month.
For more, let’s bring in Andrew Walker, economics correspondent for the BBC. He’s with us live from London. Good morning.
Andrew Walker: Good morning.
Hobson: Well Andrew, tell us a little bit about what Merkel and Sarkozy have decided to do.
Walker: Well, you’ve pretty much got the bare bones of it there — that they clearly recognize there is a serious problem with the eurozone banks and they say that they are going to come up with a plan by the end of the month. So that’s just ahead of the G20 Summit which is in early November — they’re going to come up with a plan to provide the banks with more capital. And they are going to do it, but they haven’t told us anything very much about exactly what the detail of that plan is going to be. The markets quite like the fact that there is going to be a plan, but I think they’d be a lot happier if it had some credible detail.
Hobson: Well when you say “providing the banks with more capital” — we’ve heard this idea of recapitalizing the banks. Explain what that means, or what that might mean, as they go forward?
Walker: Fundamentally what it means is that the governments — although some of this money might come from the private sector, but it’s going to be mainly from the public sector — they would basically buy new shares in the banks so that the banks would then have a bigger financial cushion to fall back on, but at the same time, governments would then have a stake in the banks — which, if things go well, they will one day be able to sell. It’s very much the way in which the TARP — the Troubled Asset Relief Program — worked out in the end in the United States.
Hobson: And Andrew, as you start this week — last week was kind of a big week in the European debt crisis, with all the banking troubles, etc. Does this seem like it’s going to be a rough one, or is this going to be a little bit easier?
Walker: I think the markets are going to be — my guess is marking time a little because they’ve now got a clear sense that there is a plan being worked on. But I think they’re going to get very, very unhappy indeed if they don’t get some credible information about how it’ll work fairly soon.
Hobson: The BBC’s economics correspondent, Andrew Walker. Thanks Andrew.
Walker: My pleasure.
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