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The Spanish bailout: fire fighting or faith-healing?
Photo: DPA

The Spanish bailout: fire fighting or faith-healing?

Published: 11 Jun 2012 12:38 GMT+02:00
Updated: 11 Jun 2012 12:38 GMT+02:00

Germany’s key financial policy-makers reacted positively to the news. In a statement, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble said: "I welcome the Spanish government's determination to recapitalize the banks via the European rescue funds with corresponding conditions."

German central bank chief Jens Weidmann told public television station ARD, "I am confident in the Spanish government, which has already begun undertaking full measures in the labour market."

The financial markets also seemed to welcome the decision, with the Dax in Frankfurt rising 2.2 percent on Monday morning.

But in the German media, the news has enjoyed a far more critical reception. Many newspapers were quick to dampen the optimism by warning of tough tests ahead.

The Düsseldorf-based financial newspaper the Handelsblatt said the eurozone should be braced for "further shockwaves."

The paper identified next week’s Greek elections as a "severe test" and warned that a eurozone meeting at the end of the month had to come up with "concrete solutions towards a fiscal union" – otherwise the doors of the financial markets could slam shut on Spain - or even Italy.

The Leipziger Volkszeitung was another such dissenting voice. The Saxony newspaper warned that the bailout could be just the prelude to "a gigantic emergency operation for the Spanish patient... that could make Greece billion-euro loan look like small beer."

Mass-circulation daily Bild articulated the same scepticism in rather more strident tones. "Schäuble wants us to believe a one-off aid package will bring lasting success," the paper thundered in an editorial. "But he said the same about Greece two-and-a-half years ago, and since then money has flowed uninterrupted into a bottomless Greek pit. So much for one-off!"

"One thing is sure," concluded Germany’s most widely-read newspaper. "It will be the German taxpayers footing most of the bill for the euro-rescue. They at least deserve to be told the whole truth."

The European heads of state have failed to learn from the example of Greece, according to Düsseldorf’s Rheinische Post. The paper blasted the rescue package as "incomprehensible faith-healing."

"Bitter experience has taught us that it will be German money propping up the latest falling domino of the euro crisis," it concluded sadly, laying much of the blame at the door of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy and his predecessor José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero for the dishonesty of their "mighty boasts."

For the Hamburger Abendblatt, the problems are more fundamental. "The Spanish case lays bare two unresolved weak points," was the verdict of the major broadsheet in Germany’s second-largest city.

"Even after the outbreak of the great financial crisis in autumn 2008, the financial markets continue to lead their own unaccountable existence... and in addition, the euro countries have abandoned their fundamental principle, whereby each country is liable for its own debts."

The paper likened the situation to an emergency on board a boat, where "the strong must help the weak."

Only the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung was prepared to offer qualified support for the new measures. In next week’s Greek elections, the paper pointed out, "the Greeks could very well set a course for an exit from the euro. That’s why it’s so important to defuse the Spanish problem."

The commentary concluded, "The eurozone’s fire fighters cannot risk the possibility of two blazes at once."

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The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

14:45 June 11, 2012 by jg.
This is not a permanent fix - the bailouts will continue, unless/until the Germans and other contributors tire of paying.
14:56 June 11, 2012 by smart2012
if u look at the stocks today, it seems it is more fire fighting. Understanding is that until we will introduce Euro bonds Europe will struggle.
15:52 June 11, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Every time there is another bailout, there is a jump in the stock market... if only the jumps were permanent. there are STILL enough Koolaidians around that believe this is fighting the fire. After all, the same thing has already happened in Greece. but, Proglodytes have never been known to learn from past failures, even if there are recent and ongoing.
19:53 June 11, 2012 by PNWDev
@smart2012

Eurobonds only have a politically-correct appeal to Germans.. Eeconomically, they force an unnecessary risk on the German taxpayer and clearly the negatives far outweigh the positives. Committing to the issuance of Eurobonds will forever tie Germany to failed, debt-ridden nations that do not view personal productivity the same way Germans do and as a result, topics of economic crisis (just like this one) will continue to surface creating volatility and forever haunting the German taxpayer going forward.

You don¦#39;t solve a longer-term debt crisis through the issuance of long-term debt.

And any Eurozone bonds not backed by the German taxpayer will be nothing other than a high-yield junk bond. Because productivity is not equal in the EU, Eurobond backing will not be equal either and Merkel and her gang recognize this and they are right for refusing it and protecting the German taxpayer from what would be a future Eurobond default and a German taxpayer bailout of the Euro.

The Eurozone does not work for much of the same reasons the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) does not work. Both agreements were designed to bring parity to the region, but such a belief is really just a distant cousin of socialism because not all people will be equally productive no matter how many times you try it. For whatever the underlying reason is, the common, failed-denominator between NAFTA and the EU is that the likes of Mexico, Greece, Portugal, and Spain will never achieve competitive-parity with the US, Canada, Germany and others. Trying to force an economic parity only creates economic bubbles that in the end, burst and create a socioeconomic environment much worse than the one politicians were trying to improve.
01:04 June 12, 2012 by raandy
Spain wanted the the funds to go direct to the banks, and not to the Gov. but Europe's bailout fund only permits dispersing the funds to Spain.Now they have to buy stakes in the banks.This money is ment to be paid back ,increasing an already overstressed Spanish balance sheet.If Spain defaults on all the bond interest to the private sector the ESM has to be paid back first, leaving all the bond holders, Banks , and other financial institutions ,many in Germany holding an empty sac.This with the fact private investors are surely not going to want to buy anymore Spanish bonds, a temporary pause in the inevitable.
11:21 June 12, 2012 by smart2012
@PNWDev. I do not necessary agree with all of your statements. Everyone knew that Greece/Portugal are not manufacturing countries, however Euro gave the benefit to Gernman companies that Greek could afford to buy Audi and Mercedes (42% German export is in Europe, 4% in Asia). So it is a given and take. On the other hand Germany (Merkel) is not wanting Greece/Portugal to leave otherwise thjey will loose competitiveness against them. Having said that and assuming u are aginst Eurobonds, what is your proposal?
14:48 June 12, 2012 by AlexR
The current, like the previous bailouts, won't fix anything no matter how the politicians and the bankers try to twist it. It's like trying to treat cancer with aspirins. The much publicized 100-billion "bailouts" to individual countries are nothing compared to the far less publicized bailouts of several trillions that the banks received at the same time.

And I have to laugh again with the articles of Bild & co when they are saying that "the German taxpayers at least deserve to be told the whole truth", when it is the very same Bild that doesn't 't tell "the whole truth" to its own readers. For three years now, the Bild hate campaign is trying to blame the Greeks and the rest of the PIIGS for the crisis, with stereotypes, generalizations and lies while at the same time it doesn't even slightly criticize the highly paid bankers of being the real source of the problem. Why don't they tell their readers and taxpayers the whole truth, like the following?

-In the past few months, the European Central Bank has provided the banks with 1.3 trillion euro in ultra-low cost financing. Despite that, the investors told the ECB that this "is not enough".

h**p://money.cnn.com/2012/04/19/markets/ecb-euro-financing/index.htm

- The much reported 100 billion bailout to Spain is just a fraction of the less reported "secret bailout" that Spain has already received and still receiving. By March, the central bank of Spain has borrowed about 285bn euros from the ECB, or 27% of Spain's GDP, and rising.

h**p://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17753891

And where has the ECB been getting all this money from? Mainly from Germany's central bank, the Bundesbank, or better, the taxpayers.

And why Bild & co and the politicians decide not to say anything to the taxpayers about the above trillion-bailouts to the banks but they're constantly talking about the billion-bailouts to the PIIGS countries? Perhaps, because it is more convenient and profitable (in the political sense) to convince your taxpayers that the blame lies with the "lazy PIIGS" instead of the "highly paid bankers"?
15:30 June 12, 2012 by smart2012
Alex R, i cannot agree more :-)
16:25 June 12, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ smart2012 + AlexR

It is clear that you find little fault in the Government. Which is no surprise, you two have always been Big Government supporters. They can do little wrong, can they? But the fact of the matter is, your Government gave the bankers the go ahead for loans, with low rates and sub par lending standards, guaranteed by the EUs fake Credit Score. It is how German industry has thrived. After all, how else was Greece or Spain going to afford all those new toys? All those Siemens products? Audi? Mercedes? Light industry, heavy industry? GREEN ENERGY? etc...?? Seems like Germany has had lots to sell, but buyers were needed. In comes the EU credit line, Perfect! German industry is on top of the world again.

In fact, if the bankers were the real Problem, why not just let the 'irresponsible' ones go broke?
16:35 June 12, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@Alex R

You make many good points about the Bild reporting and the politicians (let me add the technocrats, who are slowly replacing European politicians). It is certainly `profitable`, as you write, to distract people from the financial reality by envoking stereotypes (red herrings) and by lying through omission.

But profitable for whom?

The Bild is simply an organ of our so-called elites. Peter Scholl-Latour says that there is much to be gained by reading the Bild. If you want to see where they are trying to take us then read it with a skeptical eye for this reason. It is an excellent source.
16:55 June 12, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ Leo Strauss

Yes, Bild represents the Elites. That is why Bild is only read by the elites. Those people in Brussles and Berlin? That the Bild often disagrees with? No, those aren't the 'Elites', no. Yes, the REAL problems in the EU are all the evil bankers fault. Yawn. Idiots.
17:02 June 12, 2012 by readlover
@ AlexR

The "highly paid bankers" have their responsibility on all this, but not for being highly paid. After all, most of the high executives of the big companies receive astronomical salaries, which is fair at some point, considering the level of responsibility they handle. However, the irresponsible practices these bankers took, have greatly contributed to the crisis we are facing.

Having said that, considering that the well being of the banks is essential for the well being of the economy of a country/region, the bailouts are required. In the other hand, strict controls are needed to avoid this from happening in the future.
17:19 June 12, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ readlover

'strict controls are needed to avoid this from happening in the future.'

and who do you propose is impartial and responsible enough to enforce these 'strict controls'? Since the Government is obviously incapable of it... In fact, the EU made it easier to lend and borrow than ever before. With a credit line that was a political fabrication to boost domestic production. Resulting in debt debt and more debt. The ONLY people capable of keeping this from happening in the future, are the taxpayer and voter. But, they are busy being lied to as well.
18:06 June 12, 2012 by readlover
@ IchBinKönig

Debt is not bad itself. In fact, debt is required to ensure an economy grows, so that the entrepreneurs have capital to start new businesses or grow their current businesses, creating jobs and wealth. However, you need to make sure the people you lend to are able to pay back.

From a macroeconomic perspective, Germany and the whole EU should benefit in the future from the current bailouts as far as the money is well placed (e.g. if the Spanish see the outcome from this crisis, they will have money to buy more Mercedes, BMW, etc...) Here is were the EU authorities have to play a role.
18:16 June 12, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@IchBinKönig

My dear friend, I wrote that the Bild is an `organ` of the elites, not that it represents the elites.

Please read the `idiot`s` comments more carefully before you go on to misquote them in order to set up your own cheap strawman argument.

The reality is that the kleptocrats who are committing these crimes are often both public servants and banksters. It is a revolving door arrangement and so trying to pin the blame on one group or the other is futile. Both are hopelessly corrupt. Do a background check on these people to find out that they work for Goldman-Sachs, then the ECB, then are consultants to some administration, then its back to the Deutsche Bank, and so on.

The fact is, that the laws set up to govern the finances of the EU have not been followed. They have been bent, broken and ignored. Cui bono?

How about a return to the Rule of Law?
19:03 June 12, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ Leo Strauss

Oh, I know the Kleptocrats are corrupt. But I also know that theLoco.de crew wants nothing more than for the EU to continue stronger and bigger than ever. Democracy is secondary to this crew. Which is why theLoco's never place blame on the Kleptocrats, no. They want the Kleptocrats to create even more debt, possibly even Euro bonds. No way do they want this doomed ride to end. They will just blame the Strawman banksters instead. Its only tax payer money. After all, who is going to pay for their social welfare for typing their 'Rah Rah Rah! Government' posts at the Loco.de if the current social Netz Government fails? nobody.
19:37 June 12, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@IchBinKönig

I`m not sure who you are refering to by `theloco.de crew`. Is it theLocal itself or a group of posters?

Anyway, you seem to be very exasperated with the current situation, as well you should be. People should be very angry about what is going on and terrified at the prospect of world events continuing along their current tangent.

The ride is doomed as you point out, but what is the ride, exactly?

The banksters and technocrats are turning the countries which use the Euro into debt slaves, starting with smaller ones like Greece and Ireland.

Simultaneously, NATO is violently enforcing regime change on key countries which are not IMF debt slaves, in order to install puppets who will follow bankster orders. Here they are also starting with the smaller ones, such as Libya.

Next will come Spain/Syria and then Italy/Iran.

Its a two track system of full spectrum dominance.

The fun begins with the Germany France/Russia or China take-down phase.

Is that `Loco` enough for ya?

PS : Watch this video with F. William Engdahl:

http://www.infowars.com/massive-debt-collapse-with-author-f-william-engdahl/
11:34 June 13, 2012 by AlexR
@IchBinKönig

I really can't understand how you've reached the conclusion that I "find little fault in the Government" and that I "have always been Big Government supporter". Did you even bother to read my comment properly before replying? In short, I completely agree with the argument you've made. The "toxic coalition" of the banks with the politicians against their own people it's not something new and it's not a secret. Look what happened few days ago with Spain. As Nobelist Paul Krugman said in New York Times, "the economy slides, unemployment soars, banks get into trouble, governments rush to the rescue - but somehow it's only the banks that get rescued, not the unemployed".

And this "toxic coalition" of the banking and political elites, became far more toxic and obvious the recent years. In Greece, they have appointed as a Prime Minister an *unelected* technocrat who was formerly the Vice President of the European Central Bank. Same thing in Italy. And the recently appointed President of the European Central Bank was a former vice chairman of Goldman Sachs, the very same bank that "helped" Greece to come into this mess. And we've seen, throughout this crisis, how different countries have been hit by the close, mutually destructive relationship between banks and their sovereign governments.

@Leo Strauss

I do read the Bild and what Peter Scholl-Latour and others say about the Bild, and I agree with your comment. Regarding the current crisis, Bild was/is "profitable" to the banking/political elites and mainly the current government, by shaping the public opinion. From the beginning of the crisis, the Bild was perfectly aware that, the creditors (the German/French/UK banks) were equally responsible with the debtors (the PIIGS) for the crisis, through irresponsible lending (I call it gambling) to weak economies. However, they decided to blame only the PIIGS and leave the banks untouched, for a very simple reason: the "toxic coalition" of politicians, banks and businesses.

Of course now the above approach has backfired, like it happens with all the lies. More and more people are getting aware that this is more a banking crisis than anything else. However, the Bild even now, doesn't report that actually most aid to Greece circles directly back into the banks and troika¦#39;s pockets because it doesn't want its readers to know that their bailout money don't actually help Greece but only their banks to recover.

h**p://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/30/business/global/athens-no-longer-sees-most-of-its-bailout-aid.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1

@readlover

The "highly paid bankers" was more an euphemism than anything else. By this, I was mainly referring to the "toxic coalition of politicians and banks". As for the rest of your comments, I completely agree. However, after three years of complete mess, I still fail to see any "strict controls" to the banks.
14:25 June 13, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@Alex R

I think that you have got it sussed. The Lie Machine is very useful if you can read between the lines. As Christopher Walken said to Dennis Hopper in `True Romance`: `You ain`t sayin nothin, but you`re tellin me everythin`.

Anyway, I have been following Max Keiser since 2005 and find that he is usually spot on. Has been predicting the events comprising this crisis for years and calls a spade a spade. That`s why you can only see his TV programs on RT or PressTV: For some reason the corporations that own the MSM don`t want us to know. Would recommend that you and all here check him out:

http://maxkeiser.com/

Also, the Bild may soon have genuine gore with which to spin the Euro crisis away. Up to now they have only had age-old BBC photos from Iraq to pimp out false-flag massacres in Syria. However now Hilary Clinton has claimed that the Russians are sending the Syrian Gov`t attack helicopters. :(

A Russian `Krokodil` could ruin Al-CIAda`s day but will finally provide the Bild with some bonafide pictures for the Sheeple here in D-Land.

Euro crisis? What Euro crisis??
16:03 June 13, 2012 by raandy
Mrs Merkel is in a political bind. She does not want to expose German taxpayers to supporting Spanish banks but says she supports a closer EU.Mrs Merkel wants the bailout to come from the ESM and wants the debt to be senior to all others .No question she is dealing with tax payers who really feel cheated especially when they did not want the Euro in the first place,and why should German tax payers pay for the excess of these countries when they have maintained a strict conservative budget approach?

The truth is Spain and other depressed EU economies can not make it with out help from other members.The German taxpayers are already on the hook for billions if the Euro does not survive, there will be enormous losses which will find there way back to German taxpayers.

With all the different views of the member states on taxation,public finance and redistribution and sharing the risk puts limits on how far fiscal cooperation can go. A bail out that works is more needed than a bailout for its own sake.With out a better approach things are only going to worsen.
20:54 June 13, 2012 by PNWDev
@smart2012

Choices are simple, stay in the EU and continue to be willing to back current and failed sovereigns into perpetuity at whatever cost is necessary to the German taxpayer. Or, leave the Euro and take the one-time economic hardships that will result as well as the political attacks (and there will be many) for the collapse of the Euro.

Which do you prefer?

Staying in the EU will mean this is your EU way of life. Do you like it? It will not go away ­ ever. New governments will come in and reject deals made by their predecessors (just like the Greeks), thus deals will need to be reworked ­ continuously. And governments will cheat just like the Greeks did upon entry into the Euro and all of this will create excess volatility in the markets because there is no way you are ever going to get that many sovereigns to comply with a common spending-budget-deficit plan year-after-year-after-year. No way!

Leave the EU and the Deutsche Mark will soar in value eliminating Germany¦#39;s trade surplus while increasing unemployment and interest rates, and significantly raising Germany¦#39;s debt-to-GDP ratio. And in the short term (less than 3 years) it will hurt. But Germans will be in control of their own finances and will no longer have the responsibility for other failed economic states and through German discipline, they will work their way out of it.

But do not underestimate the political attacks that will follow as Germany will be blamed for the collapse of the Euro and inept, debt-ridden nations will be excused as victims. And the stupid, over-sued rants about World War II will also be used to drive sympathy in hopes of profiting (entitlement) from German guilt.

As the mess is worked through, the results will mean Greeks won¦#39;t be able to buy German cars anymore, and Germans will be able to buy cheap villas in Spain and Greece and hire local caretakers to help them with their perennially, high-unemployment problems.
15:51 June 14, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Thank God for Nigel:

http://www.infowars.com/farage-the-euro-titanic-has-now-hit-the-iceberg/
17:11 June 14, 2012 by Bushdiver
I read about this on another site. I know many of you may not understand English very well but check this out. Type into youtube: "British Ron Paul (Nigel Farage). What he says is exactly correct about the bailout to Spain. Look and see if you don't agree. I wonder why no one else sees this.
17:19 June 14, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@Bushdiver

`I wonder why no one else sees this.`

Look at the post above yours. :)
16:42 June 15, 2012 by libsarescum
"The problem with socialism is that the government eventually runs out of OTHER'S people's money"

- Margaret Thatcher
18:35 June 15, 2012 by Leo Strauss
Check out Max Keiser`s latest RT episode on his website for more great info on this crisis as it develops:

http://maxkeiser.com/

Scroll down to the middle for a hilarious mock Das Boot poster with Angie as Johann, das Gespenst. :)

@libsarescum

Ahhh, the good ol` days. Maggie, Ronnie, Pinochet...

Hey libs, pay her no heed. That was the Alzheimers talking. ;)
22:01 June 15, 2012 by AlexR
@Leo Strauss

Thank you, I'm following the views of Max Keiser from time to time. Even if I think that sometimes he is a little over the top, he usually predicts correctly many more things that the 'highly paid but grossly incompetent' EU bureaucrats and government financial 'experts'.

For example the following video of 2010 about the Greek debt crisis. Watch how the two Greek financial 'experts' insist that the demonstrations on the streets are not representative of the 'public majority' which 'largely agrees with the austerity measures'. On last month elections we all saw how the 'majority agrees with the austerity'. The two pro-auterity parties had a total 82% of the votes on 2009 which fell to 31% last May. A 50% drop which is unprecedented in any Western country in the recent history.

(Unfortunatelly, I realized that I can't post YouTube links here but you can search on Youtube for "Max Keiser on Inside Story - Greek Debt Crisis")

@raandy: "why should German tax payers pay for the excess of these countries when they have maintained a strict conservative budget approach?"

The short answer could be that they should pay because Merkel & co, want them to. And they want them to, because, in any other case their banks which have lent excessively and irresponsibly to the PIIGS will face grave troubles. And who will save the banks if that happens? The German taxpayers. And they'll need to pay much more money directly to bailout their banks that the money they pay now to the PIIGS (again for saving indirectly their banks).

And yes, Germany has "maintained a strict conservative budget approach" but so did some of the PIIGS like Spain, Ireland and partly Italy. Spain for example had far *less* deficit than Germany before the 2008 started. Until 2008 its debt-to-GDP ratio was falling while Germany's, by contrast, continued to rise.

And the recent bailout of Spain, perfectly illustrates the fact that the eurozone's problems run far deeper than the issue of excessive borrowing by ill-disciplined governments.
18:09 June 16, 2012 by Leo Strauss
@AlexR

Glad that you like Keiser. He can be freaky but he`s always ahead of the curve and almost has interesting guests on his show. He has introduced me to a lot of great thinkers.

Thanks for the tip. Will try to find the MK-Greek vid to catch that particular batch of lies n´ liars. Its all coming to a head tomorrow. Do or die for the Greek people.

Have a good one :)
11:51 June 20, 2012 by Buddy Dickerson
The Greeks are the Titanic the euro will crash … these guys are playing the fiddle and trying to bail out Spain, Ireland, Greece Italy and Portugal is like trying to bail water out of the Titanic with a child's beach bucket.

The German people should take a look back in history and remember another time ... they should have stopped their government.

Europe has bigger problems than the leaves on the tree with the Euro. In The Plot to Overthrow by a fellow named Mohammad Goldstein he lays out the big picture on the horizon. Obama, senators and every congressman has a hard copy and you can get it for nothing on the net. This American movement will slap the silly out of your politics.
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