As German leaders and bankers worked feverishly to rescue a lender considered too big to fail, the government announced Sunday that it would guarantee all private savings accounts in Germany – worth about €500 billion – in an effort to reinforce increasingly shaky confidence in the financial system.
Officials in Berlin were frantically trying to salvage a €35 billion, or $48 billion, bailout devised just a week ago for Hypo Real Estate, a major German property lender based in Munich and member of the benchmark stock index, after commercial banks withdrew their support, fearing greater losses.
Much of the weekend activity was undertaken with a view toward having solutions in place by the time financial markets opened Monday in Asia, a trigger point that officials around the world have come to view warily.
With memories of how the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers put the crisis into high gear three weeks ago, officials fear letting investors wake up to a festering problem. That could easily provoke new losses in stock markets and test the limits of tight credit markets, the core of the crisis.
Worried that the continued turmoil at Hypo Real Estate would lead to a depositors’ panic at other German banks, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück made a rare Sunday appearance before television cameras in Berlin on the steps of the Chancellery to assure a jittery public about the safety of their savings.
The EU is trying to shut down Ireland from doing the same thing – relying upon pettifoggery regulations they say the Irish are violating.
Of course, they dare not try to smack down Germany – the strongest industrial engine in the whole EU – or they just might pull back a stub.