Last month, European banks tapped the ECB for €489bn in a long-term refinance operation dubbed LTRO. On February 29, another round of LTRO is coming up and expect banks to go for the gusto. Banks like cheap money to speculate and that is exactly what they will do.
The Financial Times reports Banks set to double crisis loans from ECB
European banks are preparing to tap the European Central Bank’s emergency funding scheme for up to twice as much as the ECB supplied in its debut €489bn auction last month, providing further evidence of the sector’s liquidity squeeze.
Several of the eurozone’s biggest banks have told the Financial Times that they could well double or triple their request for funds in the ECB’s three-year money auction on February 29.
“Banks are not going to be as shy second time round,” said the head of one eurozone bank at last week’s World Economic Forum in Davos. “We should have done more first time.”
Three bank chief executives, all of whom asked to remain anonymous, said they were planning to increase their participation twofold or threefold.
Unlimited Money for Three Years at One per cent
The ECB is offering unlimited money to banks for three years, at one per cent. Banks are salivating because the first round went well.
The money is supposed to go for bank lending but it won’t. Why should banks lend? They have a guaranteed profit by speculating in Spanish or Italian bonds, assuming of course Spain and Italy do not need bailouts coupled with a writedown on government debt.
However, that’s quite a risk, and in my opinion Spain will need such a writedown. If so, Germany will be on the hook once again.
For a discussion about how futile this is, please see Premature Dollar Obituaries and Mainstream Economists’ Monetary Insanity; Keynes-Inspired Great Depression; Lessons Not Learned
Money Supply Will Soar, Lending Won’t
Don’t expect the next LTRO to make it into the real economy. It won’t. Rather the LTRO will fuel more bank speculation and more leverage in government bonds. Money supply will soar, lending won’t and this rates to be good for gold.
In the meantime, please sing along with Bachman Turner Overdrive (and the ECB).
This post originally appeared on Mish’s Global Economic Trend Analysis.