Mario Draghi captured the utter ineptitude of him and every other Eurocrat out there when he said the following at today’s press conference in response to a question about a Greek exit: “To have a Plan B means defeat already. I am confident that all the pieces of this will fall in the proper places.”
Most 5-year old children in pre-school have already been told not to believe that they can always win and that “winning isn’t everything”, but Draghi & Co. still refuse to consider the possibility of failure even as it is staring them in the face. What’s really disturbing is that the stakes here are obviously much, much higher than they are on the playground. These people should have already been thinking about Plans X, Y and Z, but they’re telling us they can’t even make it to B.
I hate to break it Mr. Draghi, but everyone else, including the German government (read the Eurozone’s back-stopper of last resort), other sovereign governments of Europe and the rest of the world, do have a Plan B for when, not if, the current Euro experiment fails. Whether those plans will make a bit of difference is an altogether different question, but they do exist. They acknowledge the fact that all the pieces can’t simply “fall in the proper places”. Most of the pieces to this puzzle don’t even exist.
Like, for instance, the capital that is actually required to drag the entire Euro periphery along while the world falls into the unmitigated depths of economic depression. The ECB can issue another few trillion euros of under-collateralized loans to European banks, but, as mentioned before, this will merely make it exponentially harder for both European economies to grow and European banks to remain solvent (as opposed to flush with more short-term liquidity than they know what to do with).
The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) has approved, for the seven national central banks (NCBs) that have put forward relevant proposals, specific national eligibility criteria and risk control measures for the temporary acceptance of additional credit claims as collateral in Eurosystem credit operations. Details of these specific national measures will be made available on the websites of the respective NCBs: Central Bank of Ireland, Banco de España, Banque de France, Banca d’Italia, Central Bank of Cyprus, Oesterreichische Nationalbank and Banco de Portugal.
These developments follow up on the decision of the Governing Council of 8 December 2011 to increase collateral availability by allowing Eurosystem NCBs, as a temporary solution, to accept additional performing credit claims as collateral.
I guess we can call that the ECB’s “Plan B” – stuff the banks’ coffers with so much encumbered cash and itself with so many toxic assets that, when Greek and Portugal finally go down, shortly followed by Spain and Italy, the implosion will be much more epic than it ever could have been. That stands in direct opposition to Germany and the Netherland’s Plan B, though, which is to extract themselves from a currency union death spiral before their peoples’savings are rendered completely worthless.
The only question now, as it has been for some time, is whose Plan B will prevail. Will it be the childish financiers and bureaucrats who refuse to accept any form of “defeat” whatsoever, or the increasing swaths of people across multiple cultures who have learned to accept that sometimes it’s much better to cut your losses and make plans for adapting to a very different future? The latter have always faced a steep, uphill battle, and right now is no different, except there is much less time for the question to remain open.