05/24/2011 12:46 PM
ECB’s Balance Sheet Contains Massive Risks
By Matthias Brendel and Christoph Pauly, DER SPIEGEL
While Europe is preoccupied with a possible restructuring of Greece’s debt, huge risks lurk elsewhere — in the balance sheet of the European Central Bank. The guardian of the single currency has taken on billions of euros worth of risky securities as collateral for loans to shore up the banks of struggling nations.
On the green fields near Carriglas, halfway between Dublin and Ireland’s west coast, the wind whistles eerily around rows of half-finished houses. Most of these buildings are roofless, leaving their bare walls unprotected against the elements. Even the real estate brokers’ for-sale signs and the project offices are gone. Hardly anyone in Carriglas believes that the houses will ever be finished.