The Latin American option

With the ECB doling out almost half a trillion Euros of 1 percent three-year loans to European banks, I am made to think of Latin America in the 1980s. Remember that the Latin American crisis started in Mexico in the autumn of 1982, but it wasn’t actually sorted out until 1989 with the Brady bonds deal (not very clearly explained here). In between, the Fed and other central banks conspired to keep the banks that had lent way too much to Latin America alive.

Maybe the ECB can do that with Europe. If it lends enough cheap money to European banks, perhaps enough of it will be spent by the ‘private’ financial sector on government debt to keep all countries in the Euro. Then the ECB can wait for the US economy to recover and restructure all the debt in a better economic environment — much as the US did at the end of the 80s rather than in the early 80s recession. Southern Europe, like Latin America, just has to put up with a lost decade of growth and steady capital flight. Which is hardly a new thing.

This scenario doesn’t really feel likely to me. Above all Italy and Spain are way more important to aggregate rich-country demand than 1980s Latin America was. Italy may want to think it is Mexico, but actually it is France behaving like Argentina. If you know what I mean.

Which seems to lead to the conclusion that this baby’s gonna blow. Oh dear. Did I mention the IMF before?

 

IMF, IMF, riding as to war

We all hope you will not be

As clueless as before

Oh! [repeat indefinitely until IMF arrives]

 

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