News / Economy

Europe's Financial Crisis Intensifies

The logo of Belgian-French financial services group Dexia is seen on their building in the business district of La Defense, near Paris, October 7, 2011.
The logo of Belgian-French financial services group Dexia is seen on their building in the business district of La Defense, near Paris, October 7, 2011.
TEXT SIZE - +
Lisa Bryant

Europe's financial crisis has deepened this week as worries rose about the health of another bank - the Franco-Belgian-owned Dexia.  Dexia's board meets Saturday to discuss the bank's future. Dexia's woes underscore growing criticism about the region's handling of its crisis.

This is not the first time Dexia has been in trouble. French and German authorities bailed out the bank in 2008. Now it is on the financial brink again because of its high exposure to Greek debt.

Dexia is reportedly trying to sell its affiliate in Luxembourg. Its board meets Saturday, reportedly to discuss a larger breakup.  

French and Belgian authorities have vowed to take all necessary to help save Dexia and protect its clients, a promise echoed Thursday by Belgium's interim Prime Minister Yves Leterme.

Speaking on France's RTL radio, Leterme said the Belgian and French governments would do everything to ensure Dexia continues to function and to guarantee the bank's continuity.

Like many other European banks, Dexia passed a European stress test to assess its financial health. That was just three months ago.  

For Karel Lannoo, head of the Brussels-based Center for European Policy Studies, the new reports about Dexia's struggles highlight a bigger problem - European officials are not being transparent about the region's banking crisis.

"The authorities... want to cover it up. And apparently have not learned a lesson from the crisis; that if you cover it up, it gets even worse when it explodes," said Lannoo/ "We have seen similar periods in 2008, early 2009 with other banks, where authorities try to hide problems, but it is even worse when you see it. "

Dexia is not the only European bank that is struggling because of high exposure to the debts of Greece and other ailing European economies.

"Dexia could be the tip of the iceberg, probably the weakest of the banks which are around," said Lannoo. "But as soon as we have anther hit somewhere, the sovereign problems which Europe has today, these banks will be in trouble."

More broadly, analysts fear Europe as a whole may be tipping toward another recession. At his final news conference Thursday, outgoing European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet delivered a sober assessment.

"Ongoing tensions in financial markets and unfavorable effects on financing conditions are likely to dampen the pace of economic growth in the euro area in the second half of the year. The economic outlook remains subject to particularly high uncertainty and intensified downside risks," said Trichet.

Europe's debt and banking crises are certain to top the agenda when leaders of the Group of 20 meet in France next month. On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama again warned about the risk of a larger fallout.

"The problems Europe is having today could have a very real effect on our economy at a time when it is already fragile," said Obama.

Analyst Lannoo said Dexia's crisis also is notching up the alarm felt by many ordinary Europeans at a time of high unemployment and weakening economies.

"People will be even more concerned about the state of the financial system and even have less trust in the financial system," said Lannoo.

As a result, Lannoo predicts that Europeans may instead begin sinking their savings into real estate or other areas they feel are safer than their banking system.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.7217
JPY
USD
102.17
GBP
USD
0.5949
CAD
USD
1.1009
INR
USD
60.326

Rates may not be current.