Bloomberg News

ABN Amro’s Zalm Says Bank Funding Is Becoming More Difficult

September 04, 2011

(Updates with comments on euro from third paragraph.)

Sept. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Banks are seeking to retain their liquidity, making interbank lending more difficult, as funding from money and capital markets becomes harder to obtain, ABN Amro Group NV Chief Executive Officer Gerrit Zalm said.

Interbank borrowing for more than six months is also becoming problematic because banks are reluctant to lend to competitors with “big positions in weaker countries’ debt, for instance,” he said today on Dutch television program “Buitenhof.” ABN Amro is “well-capitalized,” he said.

Zalm was Dutch finance minister from 1994 to 2002, during which time he helped oversee the implementation of the euro currency and the associated “stability pact” aimed at ensuring member states adhered to specific budgetary criteria. Germany and France both exceeded those criteria during his later term as finance minister from 2003 to 2006.

He said today the euro region needs an independent authority to ensure budget discipline among national governments. Only when budgetary discipline has been achieved should the region as a whole consider issuing bonds, he said.

There’s no need at present to increase the European Financial Stability Facility to calm financial markets as long as government leaders show sufficient willingness to expand the rescue fund should that need arise, he said.

A demise of the euro would have “catastrophic” consequences for the Dutch economy, which sends about three- fourths of its exports to other euro-zone states, and “would cause a recession that would make the 1930s a trifle by comparison,” Zalm said.

--Editors: John Buckley, Tim Farrand

To contact the reporter on this story: Maud van Gaal in Amsterdam at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Buckley at

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