Monday, February 20, 2012

Saving the euro

Zakaria: How the eurozone was saved
By Fareed Zakaria, CNN
Imagine a region of the world where stocks have had their best January in nearly 15 years; bank shares are up 20%; the rates at which governments borrow money has fallen sharply; investor sentiment is at its best in months.
You'd think I'm talking about Asia; maybe the BRIC nations. Nope.
The region is actually sclerotic, struggling Europe.
What in the world?
The story is actually quite simple - and was pointed out to me by Sebastian Mallaby of the Council on Foreign Relations. After months of endless hand-wringing, innumerable talks, and considerable pain, it seems the eurozone has actually been saved - quietly but effectively.
The savior is Mario Draghi, the new head of the European Central Bank (ECB), an institution that had been seen as powerless and obscure until now. For much of the last couple years, it had taken a backseat amid the crisis around it. Its original mandate was almost solely to keep inflation low and stable. But now, under Draghi, it has become Europe's deus ex machina.
Last December, the ECB did the equivalent of printing nearly 500 billion euros worth of cash. Essentially, the central bank lent money to more than 500 European banks at just 1% interest.
Comment: It's that easy, isn't it? More money is the secret to prosperity, isnt' it? Please remember: central bank money is like addiction. At first it is only pleasure, pain and death will come later.

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