Testing the Euro as a reserve currency…

After such a faltering decade of mixed growth, and different prospects for the members, the Euro is having it first true test as a reserve currency.

After a recent vote the German parliament has passed (by 523 to 85) a vote to bolster the € 440bn eurozone rescue fund, the European financial stability facility (EFSF). As the FT says, the vote

“would strengthen the hand of the government, and revive confidence in Angela Merkel’s ruling centre-right coalition. They said it should alsosend a strong signal to eurozone partners that Germany was “ready to resume its responsibility” in the eurozone crisis….“Within the coalition, it is a very strong and comforting signal,” said a senior adviser. “But we are under no illusions that the next steps are just ahead, and they are going to be every bit as difficult.” “

The EFSF could easily become the most powerful tool available to the EU. It needs ratifying, and all decisions require unanimity. This is both a strength and a weakness: the market needs assurance that any action will be sufficient and responsive. Weeks of political negotiations will not be acceptable, the market will make its own decision.

Greece has to decide if, in addition to it’s fiscal retrenchment, that it wants private creditors to increase the haircut they have presently accepted, by taking a bigger writedown on the value of their bonds.

It is certain that even at € 440bn, the EFSF is not large enough to deal with a new bout of market speculation. By investing the facility with institutional powers, and giving it the power of leverage, this problem could be solved. Even with a small leverage ratio, the EFSF would remain a desirable investment. With the US recently losing it’s triple A status (and the world not ending), even if EFSF didn’t attract a triple A, it would still be cheap at the price to stop a run on Spanish or Italian debt.

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About Damian Merciar
Damian Merciar is Managing Director of Merciar Business Consulting, http://www.merciar.com, a niche business economics consultancy founded in 1998. He has over twenty years experience in the areas of commercial Business Strategy. He is experienced in the transition environments of nationalized to private sector state utilities and the senior practice of commercial management, advisorial consultancy, and implementation. He has carried out policy advisory work for government ministries and been an adviser to institutional bodies proposing changes to government. He holds an MSc Economics from the University of Surrey’s leading Economics department and an MBA from the University of Kent. Also attending the leading University in the Middle East, studying International Relations and Language, for which he won a competitive international scholarship, and has a BA (Hons) in Economic History and Political Economy from the University of Portsmouth. He is currently based in London.

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