(For more on the region’s debt crisis EXT4.)
Nov. 25 (Bloomberg) -- European governments may ease provisions in a planned permanent rescue fund requiring bondholders to share losses in sovereign bailouts, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble suggested.
Schaeuble signaled that Germany may retreat from demands that private creditors contribute to rescues in exchange for European treaty amendments toughening rules on budget oversight.
European efforts to speed the setup of the 500 billion-euro ($662 billion) European Stability Mechanism from its planned mid-2013 debut have lost momentum as Germany and the Netherlands resisted pleas by France, Spain, Portugal and Ireland to drop its bondholder-loss provisions.
“Basically, we agreed on the principle for the ESM already in July,” Schaeuble told reporters in Berlin after talks with his Dutch and Finnish counterparts today. “If we now manage to move toward a stability union, we’ll see how one might possibly adjust the treaty.”
The debt crisis rattled Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, with the failure of a bund auction two days ago. Bond yields in Spain and Italy surged today, with Spain dropping a plan to auction a three-year benchmark next week and Italy being forced to pay more to borrow for two years than for 10.
While there “may be discussions in Brussels” next week on sector involvement under the ESM, the aim of a finance ministers’ meeting will be to flesh out details of the agreement by EU leaders last month to write down Greek debt, recapitalize banks and strengthen the existing rescue fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, Schaeuble said.
As the crisis worsens, the European Central Bank is coming under pressure to step up its response. While France yesterday agreed to stop pressuring the ECB to print money, policy makers today signaled they are willing to offer cash-strapped banks more liquidity if needed.
“I can imagine very well that if an exceptional measure would be demanded from the European system of central banks it would be in this area,” Luxembourg board member Yves Mersch told Luxembourg radio in an interview today. “We would look for possibilities to contribute to avoid that in a situation of stronger growth decline we won’t also have a credit crunch.”
At the same time, Executive Board member Jose Manuel Gonzalez-Paramo said the ECB doesn’t see any need to do more at the moment.
--With assistance from John Fraher in London. Editors: James Hertling, Andrew Atkinson
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