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Fear of Contagion Feeds the Italian Banking Crisis

Wolf Street

wolfstreet.com / by  •  

At first, deny, deny, deny. Then taxpayers get to bail out bondholders.

By Don Quijones, Spain & Mexico, editor at WOLF STREET.

Spain’s Banco Popular had the dubious honor of being the first financial institution to be resolved under the EU’s Bank Recovery and Resolution Directive, passed in January 2016. As a result, shareholders and subordinate bondholders were “bailed in” before the bank was sold to Santander for the princely sum of one euro.

At first the operation was proclaimed a roaring success. As European banking crises go, this was an orderly one, reported The Economist. Taxpayers were not left on the hook, as long as you ignore the €5 billion of deferred tax credits Santander obtained from the operation. Depositors and senior bondholders were spared any of the fallout.

But it may not last for long, for the chances of a similar approach being adopted to Italy’s banking crisis appear to be razor slim. The ECB has already awarded Italy’s Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) a last-minute reprieve, on the grounds that while it did not pass certain parts of the ECB’s last stress test, the bank is perfectly solvent, albeit with serious liquidity problems.

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