Europe's bail-out 'bazooka' under threat

Updated: 
The Eurozone bailout bazooka has hit a size problem. Hopes had been raised that the European Financial Stability Facility mechanism would be supported by €1 trillion of investor firepower. But these hopes are looking fragile following a lack of interest, particularly from the Chinese and Middle East.

So the unthinkable - a euro collapse - has again moved closer.


Size concern

Boss of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF), Klaus Regling, will likely inform eurozone finance ministers tonight that the plan to boost the the fund's firepower from China and sovereign wealth funds has support issues.

Last month's summit had hoped to transmute €250bn to up to five times that size. What is also undermining the sense of direction are side worries, though fairly important ones. For example, bail-out terms for Greece still haven't been implemented (Greek banks are just about to announce a bout of third quarter losses).

Cash need

One of the original remits of the EFSF was that it could protect the likes of Italy or Spain, both with severe liquidity problems. But (sensible) Asian investors no longer trust Europe to get its act together. Investors are being driven away.

So we're likely to see a tripling at the most of the EFSF (more details tomorrow). Not enough to impress the markets. So expect more talk of IMF involvement. However Italy this morning has managed to get a load of debt away with the yield on 10-year bonds hitting 7.56%. Yields on new Italian three-year bond have hit 7.89%.

In the background, European banks have to be steadily running out of cash thanks to massive write-offs of toxic debt. Which makes the current stock market rally all the more remarkable - the FTSE 100 was up 160 points yesterday while the French CAC 40 soared 5.5%. Hope's a funny thing.

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