The Greek Bank Runs Have Begun: Two Greek Banks Request Emergency Liquidity Assistance

The first time the phrase Emergency Liquidity Assistance, or ELA, was used in the context of Greece was in August 2011, when Greece was imploding, when its banking sector was on (and past) the verge of collapse, and just before the ECB had to unleash a global coordinated bailout with other central banks including global central bank liquidity swap and unleash the LTRO to preserve the Eurozone.

As a reminder, this is what happened back then: “In a move described as the “last stand for Greek banks”, the embattled country’s central bank activated Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) for the first time on Wednesday night.”

“Although it was done discreetly, news that Athens had opened the fund filtered out and was one of the factors that rattled markets across Europe. At one point Germany’s Dax was down 4pc before it recovered. The ELA was designed under European rules to allow national central banks to provide liquidity for their own lenders when they run out of collateral of a quality that can be used to trade with the ECB. It is an obscure tool that is supposed to be temporary and one of the last resorts for indebted banks.” Continue reading

Weapons of Last Resort: ECB Considers Extreme Crisis Measures

When there is no other option on the table but an extreme measure, you know you might be in the final stage before the collapse. The EU has been staring into the abyss for quite a long time already and every effective tool that has been used was only good enough to kick the proverbial can down the road — only to worry about it again when the same problem resurfaces, then rinse and repeat with a different technique. Whether it will collapse soon can only be told by time alone.

The European Central Bank wants to spur lending by banks in Southern Europe, but conventional methods have shown little success so far. On Thursday, ECB officials will consider monetary weapons that were previously considered taboo.

From Mario Drahgi’s perspective, the euro zone has already been split for some time. When the head of the powerful European Central Bank looks at the credit markets within the currency union, he sees two worlds. In one of those worlds, the one in which Germany primarily resides, companies and consumers are able to get credit more cheaply and easily than ever before. In the other, mainly Southern European world, it is extremely difficult for small and medium-sized businesses to get affordable loans. Fears are too high among banks that the debtors will default. Continue reading