ECB had little choice but to change eligibility rules
As European leaders agreed the terms of Greece’s non-bailout bailout yesterday, the ECB was forced to cave in on the eligibility rules on collateral for its liquidity facility.
The ECB had intended to raise the required credit rating of assets from BBB- to A- at the end of this year. That would have risked excluding Greek sovereign bonds, which currently only have one single-A rating from Moody’s.
It’s good news for Greece’s funding officials, who would have been hit by a wave of forced sellers among banks – forcing its spreads even higher.
But as Euromoney revealed last month, the ECB facility underpins much of he European banking sector today, and governor Trichet is unlikely to be able to tighten its terms or remove the liquidity any time soon.
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Just when Europe’s big banks have begun to repair their balance sheets and return to profitability, along comes the European sovereign debt debacle. With huge stockpiles of government bonds on their books, can the region’s banks avert a second catastrophe? Hamish Risk reports.