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Will The Fed Bailout Highly Leveraged European Banks in the Next 7 Days?

I maintain the next move by the Fed is to massively open up the dollar swap lines with European central banks. I don’t think Bernanke wants to announce this significant step at Jackson Hole. It is an EU issue and the Fed can’t take the lead on this. Opening the swap lines will prove to be very unpopular in the US. Politicians will jump on it as a bailout of Europe while America is struggling. Bernanke is going to take some heat, when this happens (I think this is now a certainty, just not sure of the timing). But I also think that Bernanke is pushing (as I write) for this to happen. The only option left for Bernanke is to put another half trillion or so into the global system. He can’t do that in the US, but he has a great excuse today to do it in Europe. I maintain the forum for this is not Jackson Hole. There is too much theater in all of this already. The Europeans don’t want this to be a circus (more than it already is). They want to be seen as responding to an EU problem, they don’t want to be seen as a slave to Bernanke and the Jackson Hole confab. The announcement of the swap lines will not come from Wyoming. It will happen on a Sunday night. It either happens before next weekend, or the weekend after. Given that things are rapidly unwinding in the EU funding markets I don’t think they want to wait another two full weeks to put a band aid on the problem. They have to do something sooner than that. If they don’t, they risk a full scale liquidity blowout before September. If the blowout were to happen it would be very difficult to reverse. They have to (attempt) to get ahead of the problem before it is a crisis.

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