Peterson Institute publications
The Peterson Institute for International Economics is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan
research institution devoted to the study of international economic policy. More › ›
RSS News Feed Search

Policy Brief 09-13

A Solution for Europe's Banking Problem

by Adam S. Posen, Peterson Institute for International Economics
and Nicolas Veron, Peterson Institute for International Economics

June 2009


The European Union's aggressive response to the global financial crisis has prevented financial meltdown, but the continent's banking industry remains very fragile. Experts estimate coming losses in excess of $500 billion, with very little written down so far. These losses plus the problems in Eastern Europe portend widespread cross-border bank insolvencies. Traditional banking (in corporate finance and household savings) remains predominant in the European economies, so healing the banking system is crucial for sustained recovery in Europe. Lingering banking fragility would result in constant disruption or misallocation of bank credit and hinder returns to savers, thus depressing investment and consumption. Ongoing fragility will also harm European trend productivity growth by skipping some investment and R&D cycles, misallocating capital to lower-return projects, and wasting human capital by consigning some workers to long-term unemployment.

It will take time and political will to create an EU banking supervisory architecture, but Europe cannot afford to wait. Posen and Véron recommend that Europe engage in system-wide "triage" of major banks on the continent by capital position, leading to public restructuring of the weakest ones. They propose that relevant countries jointly create a temporary supranational agency or Treuhand to implement the triage process, catalyze recapitalizations, and manage any distressed assets that would fall into public ownership. Such a trustee would avoid both harmful races to the bottom within Europe by national supervisors and fiscal transfers between European states for bailouts.

View full document [pdf]


 

RELATED INTERVIEWS

Dangerous Dysfunction in Europe December 9, 2010


RELATED LINKS

Book: Responding to Financial Crisis: Lessons from Asia Then, the United States and Europe Now October 2013

Policy Brief 13-21: Lehman Died, Bagehot Lives: Why Did the Fed and Treasury Let a Major Wall Street Bank Fail? September 2013

Op-ed: Misconceptions About Fed's Bond Buying September 2, 2013

Op-ed: A Dose of Reality for the Dismal Science April 19, 2013

Op-ed: Five Myths about the Euro Crisis September 7, 2012

Working Paper 12-7: Lessons from Reforms in Central and Eastern Europe in the Wake of the Global Financial Crisis April 2012

Article: Why the Euro Will Survive: Completing the Continent's Half-Built House August 22, 2012

Policy Brief 12-18: The Coming Resolution of the European Crisis: An Update June 2012

Policy Brief 12-20: Why a Breakup of the Euro Area Must Be Avoided: Lessons from Previous Breakups August 2012

Book: Sustaining China's Economic Growth after the Global Financial Crisis January 2012

Testimony: A New Regime for Regulating Large, Complex Financial Institutions December 7, 2011

Working Paper 11-2: Too Big to Fail: The Transatlantic Debate January 2011

Policy Brief 10-24: The Central Banker's Case for Doing More October 2010

Policy Brief 10-3: Confronting Asset Bubbles, Too Big to Fail, and Beggar-thy-Neighbor Exchange Rate Policies February 2010

Article: The Dollar and the Deficits: How Washington Can Prevent the Next Crisis November 2009

Speech: Rescuing and Rebuilding the US Economy: A Progress Report July 17, 2009

Testimony: Needed: A Global Response to the Global Economic and Financial Crisis March 12, 2009

Testimony: A Proven Framework to End the US Banking Crisis Including Some Temporary Nationalizations February 26, 2009

Speech: Financial Regulation in the Wake of the Crisis June 8, 2009

Paper: World Recession and Recovery: A V or an L? April 7, 2009

Op-ed: Stopping a Global Meltdown November 12, 2008

Book: Banking on Basel: The Future of International Financial Regulation September 2008

Book: Bailouts or Bail-ins? Responding to Financial Crises in Emerging Economies August 2004