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

Special Report: The battle for the Swiss soul

It has come to this: Swiss banks, under pressure from countries such as the United States, France and Germany, have been giving up their secrets, in some cases handing foreign tax authorities the names of their account holders. To avoid being blacklisted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Swiss government has agreed to share more information with foreign authorities hunting tax cheats.

The foreign assault has opened up a huge rift inside the fiercely independent Alpine nation.

Some bankers, as well as many academics and centrist and left-leaning politicians, think the country should bow to the inevitable and abandon strict secrecy. The pragmatists include big banks like UBS AG and Credit Suisse Group AG, which argue that to survive they have no choice but to surrender more information about their customers and close the accounts of those who won’t come clean. Continue reading