Jean-Claude Trichet, President of the European Central Bank, Sees Greatest Crisis Since WWI: EU Leaders Cut Their Throats

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Is it any wonder that the euro is below $1.24, that there are concerns about austerity programs in Greece, Spain, and Portugal, and that the markets worry Germany and France may leave the Eurozone.

Jean-Claude Trichet, president of the European Central Bank, said “it is clear that since September 2008 we have been facing the most difficult situation since the Second World War — perhaps even since the First World War.” He also compared current market conditions to those immediately after the Lehman failure, he told Spiegel online.

It is mystery as to whether Trichet is expressing a sort of despair or using his grim comments to rally European nations and central banks to take the financial measures to stabilize the euro.  That would involve them buying euros and perhaps debt issued by the region’s most troubled countries. Trichet added that part of the pressure on the value of debt from sovereign nations and the euro itself is that large Asian banks have lost faith in the region’s paper. The unspoken problem is that American banks and some in Europe may have done so as well. There have been rumors that French banks have shorted the euro.

Trichet also admitted that the political tension in Germany and resistance to contributing more capital to national bailouts is at its end. He claims that being a member of the Eurozone has kept Germany’s inflation low. But, there is no any meaningful evidence of the certainty of a cause and effect.

Trichet’s comments are bound to roil the markets again today and perhaps for months to come.. There is not a single authority among the chiefs of Europe’s major countries that there is a plan in place to keep the crisis from spreading. The dean of European bank CEOs, Josef Ackerman of Deutsche Bank said Greece has no viable plan to pay its $400 million in debt. President Nicolas Sarkozy threatened that his nation might pull out of the Eurozone alliance unless there was a “commitment from everyone to support Greece.” Guido Westerwelle, German foreign minister and deputy chancellor, said that all nation’s in the region needed to adopt German’s stringent budget laws–a proposal that is essential impossible for Greece, Spain, and Italy to do at this time.

Comment by comment, Europe’s leaders are adding to the chaos in the region.

Douglas A. McIntyre

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