European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet said risk signals for financial stability in the euro area are flashing “red” as the debt crisis threatens to infect banks.
“On a personal basis I would say ‘yes, it is red’,” Trichet said late yesterday in Frankfurt after a meeting of the European Systemic Risk Board, referring to the group’s planned “dashboard” to monitor risks. “The message of the board is that” the link between debt problems and banks “is the most serious threat to financial stability in the European Union.”
Trichet, who chairs the ESRB, said officials did not discuss the situation in Greece, where the government is trying to stave off a default as European governments prepare a second bailout for the nation. The EU is trying to avoid a repeat of the financial crisis that followed the 2008 collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. (LEHMQ) and resulted in European governments setting aside more than $5 trillion to support banks.
BNP Paribas (BNP) SA, France’s biggest bank, and rivals Societe Generale (GLE) SA and Credit Agricole SA (ACA), may have their credit ratings cut by Moody’s Investors Service because of their investments in Greece, the ratings company said on June 15. German banks could also be at risk from contagion, Fitch Ratings said last month.
“The most serious threat to financial stability in the EU stems from the interplay between the vulnerabilities of public finances in certain EU member states and the banking system,” Trichet said. There are “potential contagion effects across the union and beyond.”
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