Tuesday

9th Aug 2022

US rules out eurozone bail-out, as recession looms

  • No US dollars for the eurozone, says the Fed (Photo: Tracy O)

The US Federal Reserve has no plans to contribute to a bail-out of Europe, but a euro collapse would have devastating effects on the economy, its chief, Ben Bernanke, told Republican senators on Wednesday (14 December) at a closed-door hearing.

Several senators confirmed after the meeting that Bernanke said he did not "have the intention or the authority" to provide support for the euro crisis.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Republican senator Bob Corker of Tennessee said that the central banker had offered this assurance "multiple times" during the one-hour meeting.

"I think people walked away knowing he has no intentions whatsoever of furthering US involvement in the crisis," Corker told reporters.

However, Bernanke also warned of the devastating effect a eurozone collapse would have on the US economy.

"He is very concerned. He did say, if they cannot get their fiscal situation under control, it could affect us. A collapse over there would be detrimental to us," senator Orin Hatch from Utah said.

In a statement put out on Tuesday, the Federal Reserve warned of risks to the economy from "strains in global financial markets," - a reference to the eurozone crisis.

High exposure to European banks is one of the main concerns of the Fed, rather than exposure to European governments' debt, Corker said.

In what seemed to confirm the US central bank's fears, Fitch ratings agency on Wednesday downgraded five of Europe's major commercial banks, warning of more troubles ahead. France's Banque Federative du Credit Mutuel and Credit Agricole, Finland's Pohjola Group, Denmark's Danske Bank and the Netherlands' Rabobank all saw their A ratings downgraded by one notch, amid direct or indirect exposure to government debt in troubled eurozone countries.

According to Fitch, questions over how the eurozone crisis will be resolved and austerity measures taken to varying extents by European governments will affect commercial banking negatively, particularly in southern Europe and Ireland.

Meanwhile, France seems to have come to terms with a potential downgrade of its triple-A rating. "It would not be good news, of course, but neither would it be a cataclysm. The US also lost their triple A rating and continue to borrow on the markets in good conditions," French foreign minister Alain Juppe told Les Echos.

In addition to the banking and sovereign debt downgrades, the European economy is heading for a winter recession, according to a latest estimate by audit company Ernst & Young.

A "mild" recession is likely in the first half of next year, leading to economic growth of just 0.1 percent for the whole of 2012, the firm predicted. Ernst & Young also said unemployment in the eurozone was unlikely to fall below 10 percent until 2015.

US agency issues eurozone ultimatum

US ratings agency Standard & Poor's has warned it might lower the grade of all six triple-A euro countries if the upcoming EU summit does not deliver.

IMF euro rescue starts to unravel

Days after leaders pledged to channel €200bn through the IMF to help rescue the eurozone, the German central bank, the Czech Republic and Estonia have come out against the idea. Japan, Canada and the US are also sending negative signals.

EU conference call to seek clarity on IMF funding

A conference call among all 27 EU finance ministers on Monday will seek to pin down commitments on the planned €200 billion contribution to the International Monetary Fund aimed at helping the eurozone.

IMF chief warns of new Great Depression

IMF chief Lagarde has warned the Great Depression of the 1930s may repeat itself unless the EU pulls together and gets foreign help. Fresh unemployment statistics added to gloom by highlighting the social cost of austerity.

Almost two-thirds of Europe in danger of drought

Data released by the European Drought Observatory show 60 percent of Europe and the United Kingdom is currently in a state of drought, with farming, homes and industry being affected. Drought conditions have also led to an increase in wildfires.

Droughts prompt calls to cut water use amid harvest fears

With the prolonged lack of rain and high temperatures, fears have emerged over water shortages and droughts decreasing crop yields — prompting calls to use less water and reuse urban wastewater for agricultural irrigation.

Brazil pitches itself as answer to Ukraine war food shortages

Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro is pitching his Latin American country as the answer to the world food crisis following the war in Ukraine. The traditional wheat importer has now exported three million tonnes of the grain so far in 2022.

Opinion

Exploiting the Ukraine crisis for Big Business

From food policy to climate change, corporate lobbyists are exploiting the Ukraine crisis to try to slash legislation that gets in the way of profit. But this is only making things worse.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWW – EFBH – FETBBConstruction workers can check wages and working conditions in 36 countries
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  3. European Centre for Press and Media FreedomEuropean Anti-SLAPP Conference 2022
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  6. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us