French and German banks.
Contagion is the reason Italy’s banking crisis is all of a sudden Europe’s biggest existential threat. Greece’s intractable problems are out of sight, out of mind; Brexit momentarily spooked investors and bankers; but Italy’s banking woes have the potential to wipe out investors and undo over 60 years of supranational state-building in Europe.
The last few days have seen growing calls for taxpayer-funded state intervention, a practice that was supposed to have been consigned to the annals of history by Europe’s enactment of new bail-in rules on Jan 1, 2016. The idea behind the new legislation was simple: never again would taxpayers be left exclusively holding the tab for European banks’ insolvency issues while bondholders were getting bailed out. But even before the new rules have been tried out, they are about to be broken, or at least bent beyond all recognition…
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