As all eyes and ears (and trigger fingers) are glued to the flashing red headlines from Europe's conditional unconditional OMT/credit-line/backstop/ESM malarkey and Spain's insistence that it doesn't need help yet just wonders what the rules are, Merkel stated - for absolute clarity once again - her views yesterday. As much as no-one wants to hear what the money-lady has to say - preferring instead to live in a world where promises work, FinMin Schaeuble clarified the need for a 'currency commissioner' with sweeping powers to strike down national budgets. This bombshell, as The Telegraph calls it, is really nothing of the sort; as Merkel has already made it clear that there's no money without sacrificing sovereignty. The directness of this statement though does raise questions over just what the ECB is for? Critically, dismissing Van Rompuy's spin that this is a step towards debt-pooling and euro-bills, Schaeuble made it clear that fiscal union meant "more power to police the affairs of debtor states." While the possibility remains of a precautionary line of credit, the Germans stated: "one thing is clear: whatever is requested, it won't be without conditions," and as Citi's Steve Englander noted "It's all down to haggling over the price now."
Via The Telegraph:
There must be an EU “currency commissioner” with sweeping powers to strike down national budgets; a “large step towards fiscal union”; and yet another EU treaty.
Finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble dropped his bombshell in talks with German journalists on a flight from Asia, and apparently had the blessing of Angela Merkel, the chancellor. “When I put forward such proposals, you can take it as a given that the chancellor agrees,” he said.
Officials in Brussels reacted with horror. “If that is the demand, they are not going to get it. Nobody in the Council wants a new treaty right now,” said one EU diplomat.
“We’ve got the fiscal compact and quite enough fiscal discipline. Not even the Dutch want a commissioner telling them how to tax and spend,” he said.
The Schaeuble plan is highly provocative...
Mr Schaeuble poured scorn on counter-proposals by EU president Herman Van Rompuy, including a first step towards debt pooling through joint “eurobills”. The term “Fiskalunion” in Berlin has a specific meaning: more power to police the affairs of debtor states. It does not mean debt mutualisation or a joint EU treasury. Germany has so far refused to cross this Rubicon.
Michael Link, the country’s Europe minister, said Mr Van Rompuy’s plans are dead on arrival. “When you make proposals that are simply unacceptable for certain members, this will only give the impression of division. You can phrase it any way you like, 'treasury bills’, 'debt-redemption funds’ or 'eurobonds’, this type of debt issuance will not fly with our government. We have always said this very clearly.”
Michael Meister, Mrs Merkel’s key fixer in the Bundestag, told Bloomberg that German legislators might be open to the idea, “but one thing is clear: whatever is requested, it won’t be without conditions”.
Spain is quietly trying to find out what those terms might be. Demands for public-sector job cuts would set off a storm. “It’s all down to haggling over the price,” said Steven Englander from Citigroup.
Huw Pill, from Goldman Sachs, said Germany has, in fact, allowed “veiled” debt mutualisation through its share of €750bn (£607bn) of bail-out liabilities. Less visibly, it has let the ECB boost its balance sheet to 32pc of GDP, even before it embarks on “unlimited” purchases of Club Med bonds. This includes a €1 trillion lending blitz to banks, and more than €200bn of bond purchases.
It is precisely for this reason that Swiss rating agency I-CV stripped Germany of its AAA rating last month. “Germany has taken on contingent liabilities of €2 trillion. When you create these backstops, the money comes from somewhere and it can all go wrong,” said I-CV’s Rene Hermann.
Germany is in deeper than it likes to tell its own people.