Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Europe on the brink of currency crisis meltdown

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Daily Telegraph

On the ferry yesterday I decided to try out the $10 “quiet area”. That fee includes tea, coffee and newspapers, so for the first time in a while I read the dead tree version of the Sun. In the print edition a lot is content from other papers that you do not see in the on line edition. Like this story, which expanded my knowledge of what is going on in the world, and in particular why the US dollar has been getting stronger despite their financial crisis. I had thought bad mortgages and asset backed paper was a mainly US issue. What I did not know is that exposure to bad debts (mostly loans to other countries in Asia and South America) has created a much bigger crisis in Europe.

The latest data from the Bank for International Settlements shows that Western European banks hold almost all the exposure to the emerging market bubble, now busting with spectacular effect.

They account for three-quarters of the total $4.7 trillion £2.96 trillion) in cross-border bank loans to Eastern Europe, Latin America and emerging Asia extended during the global credit boom – a sum that vastly exceeds the scale of both the US sub-prime and Alt-A debacles.

No I don’t know what “Alt-A debacle” means: probably some computer glitch that got missed by the Telegraph’s subs.

It is also my impression that the version I read in the dead tree edition was much longer than this on line version, because I thought the  analysis on the impact on China would be relevant to update other things that I have been writing. And, of course, there was none of the huge number of on line comments.

Anyway, just in case you missed this too, I think this is a useful heads up.

And, if you think $10 buys you peace and quiet on a ferry, think again. Despite being nearly empty, and lots of notices about respecting others need for quiet, the cell phone yackers and the loud personal conversations were much worse there than in the adjacent no charge seating area I had to cross to get to the washroom.

Written by Stephen Rees

October 31, 2008 at 8:09 am

Posted in Economics

One Response

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  1. Alt-A is a rating given to mortgages that are below the A rating but supposedly better than sub-prime. I think that Alt-A is how the majority of the “stated income” mortgages (“liar loans”) were classified.


    October 31, 2008 at 9:43 am

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