Money-market funds in the United States have quite dramatically slammed shut their lending windows to European banks. According to the Economist, Fitch estimates U.S. money market funds have withdrawn 42 percent of their money from European banks in general.
And for France that number is even higher — 69 percent. European money-market funds are also getting in on the act.
Bond issuance by banks has seized up because buyers have gone on strike.
From the Economist’s Free Exchange Blog:
In the third quarter bonds issues by European banks only reached 15 percent of the amount they raised over the same period in the past two years, reckon analysts at Citi Group. It is unlikely that European banks have sold many more bonds since.
Corporate depositors are also pulling their cash.
“We are starting to witness signs that corporates are withdrawing deposits from banks in Spain, Italy, France and Belgium,” an analyst at Citi Group wrote in a recent report. “This is a worrying development.”
And there are troubling signs that banks are even running out of collateral to back their borrowings from the European Central Bank .
So far the liquidity of the European Central Bank (ECB) has kept the system alive. Only one large European bank, Dexia, has collapsed because of a funding shortage. Yet what happens if banks run out of collateral to borrow against?
And from the leftist New York Times.
The flight from European sovereign debt and banks has spanned the globe. European institutions like the Royal Bank of Scotland and pension funds in the Netherlands have been heavy sellers in recent days. And earlier this month, Kokusai Asset Management in Japan unloaded nearly $1 billion in Italian debt.
At the same time, American institutions are pulling back on loans to even the sturdiest banks in Europe. When a $300 million certificate of deposit held by Vanguard’s $114 billion Prime Money Market Fund from Rabobank in the Netherlands came due on Nov. 9, Vanguard decided to let the loan expire and move the money out of Europe. Rabobank enjoys a AAA-credit rating and is considered one of the strongest banks in the world.
American money market funds, long a key supplier of dollars to European banks through short-term loans, have also become nervous. Fund managers have cut their holdings of notes issued by euro zone banks by $261 billion from around its peak in May, a 54 percent drop, according to JPMorgan Chase research.
This is really disturbing. I wonder if any of my economics-minded commenters can explain to me what happens when there is a run on banks. I am guessing that there will be some rioting over benefits as austerity measures are imposed, and interest rates will go up.