What’s Worrying Mervyn

Having failed to spot the last one coming along, Sir Mervyn King is determined not to get caught out by this crisis. His opening statement at the launch of the Financial Stability Report is here.

Highlights include: “Many European governments are seeing the price of their bonds fall, undermining banks’ balance sheets. In response, banks, especially in the euro area, are selling assets and deleveraging. An erosion of confidence, lower asset prices and tighter credit conditions are further damaging the prospects for economic activity and will affect the ability of companies, households and governments to repay their debts. That, in turn, will weaken banks’ balance sheets further. This spiral is characteristic of a systemic crisis.

“Tackling the symptoms of the crisis without resolving the underlying causes, by measures such as providing liquidity to banks or sovereigns, offers only short-term relief. Ultimately, governments will have to confront the underlying causes. A loss of external competitiveness in some euro-area countries has led to current account imbalances and large build-ups of private and public debt, much of it external. The problems in the euro area are part of the wider imbalances in the world economy. The end result of such imbalances is a refusal by the private sector to continue financing deficits, as the ability of borrowers to repay is called into question.”

The full report is accessible here.

This post originally appeared at David Smith’s EconomicsUK and is posted with permission.