BRUSSELS (Reuters) - The problems of liquidity and confidence in Europe are not as severe as during post-Lehman crash, but are heading in that direction, ECB Governing Council member Luc Coene said in an interview published on Friday.
“The chief problem in Europe is that of liquidity,” Coene, who is governor of Belgium’s central bank, told French-language daily newspaper La Libre Belgique.
“The banks have again lost confidence and so lend less to each other. The situation is not as bad as in 2008-2009, but you see that it is going little by little in this direction.”
Coene said this concern stemmed from continued uncertainty regarding the bailout plans, particularly for Greece.
“You have to say that the cacophony in terms of communication of public authorities is not of a nature to reassure the financial markets,” he told the newspaper.
However, Coene said that one should not forget political engagement for the plans, which was “very firm.”
The European Financial Stability Facility, he said, was an effective instrument to deal with the crisis, but was still in formation. Uncertainty remained over the issue of collateral, as demanded by Finland, and the participation of banks.
“I hope for the return of calm to the markets after September when all the measures have been implemented and a program of austerity is operating in Greece.
“Of course the less favorable economic prospects put in doubt budgetary reductions. But you should accept that deficits deteriorate a little due to cyclical movements and that you continue to have improvement on a structural basis.
Coene said that the issuance of euro zone bonds, as some have demanded to ease the crisis, made sense, but only if there were far greater fiscal and economic convergence, and if there were automatic penalties for bloc members that do not obey the rules.
Coene also told the newspaper that capital increases for banks did not make sense now as the only subscribers to such increases would be governments, which would lead to a deterioration of sovereign credit ratings and, in turn, to lower ratings for their banks.
The Belgian central bank governor said that Belgium’s KBC (KBC.BR) and Franco-Belgian Dexia (DEXI.BR) had reported decent underlying half-year results, but that both had further to go with their restructuring plans, something made more difficult by the current state of financial markets.
Asked if he was concerned about the prospect of delays to this restructuring, Coene answered: “No. One simply needs to have increased vigilance because these banks are still vulnerable.”
Writing by Philip Blenkinsop, Editing by Ben Deighton