Euro’s Key Leaders Seeking Debt Consensus

Posted June 22nd, 2012 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

The leaders of Germany, France, Italy and Spain are meeting in Rome in a new effort to try to tame the debt crisis in the euro currency bloc and jolt its economy.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy were seeking some consensus Friday ahead of next week's European summit in Brussels. But the leaders of the four biggest economies in the 17-nation eurozone joined the talks with divergent views and interests on attacking the debt crisis.

While Ms. Merkel has continued to advocate for austerity measures to control government spending throughout Europe, Mr. Hollande has called for government spending to promote economic growth.

Spain and Italy are worried about their surging borrowing costs to operate their governments. Mr. Monti wants the eurozone rescue fund to directly buy government bonds so Italy does not have to market them on volatile international financial markets, while Spain needs at least $78 billion to rescue its financially troubled banks.

The high-level discussions occurred hours after Moody's Investors Service cut the credit ratings for 15 of the world's largest banks. One analyst, Chris Wheeler of Mediabanca, said the economic turmoil in the eurozone and the banks' financial condition led to the downgrade.

“The two reasons for this universal banking groups being downgraded was obviously the weak capital markets and also, of course, exposure to the eurozone in general.''

Despite the cut in the banks' credit standing, their stocks jumped on European and U.S. markets. Analysts say that was because Moody's had warned months ago that it might downgrade the firms, and the market had already taken that possibility into account, and some of the credit downgrades were not as severe as expected.

Trader Will Hedden of IG Index noted that one of the institutions, the Royal Bank of Scotland, said it was more financially stable than in the past, a claim echoed by other banks as well.

“We've already seen RBS coming out and saying well they don't agree with this, this is backward-looking and not forward-looking and we're in a much better position than we were in the past.”