News / Europe

Fears for European Banks as Greek Depositors Withdraw Money

Fears for European Banks as Depositors Withdraw Moneyi
|| 0:00:00
X
May 31, 2012 5:15 PM
The European Central Bank has asked financial institutions across Europe to stand behind their struggling counterparts in Greece, Spain and other countries caught in the euro debt crisis. Banks have an incentive to support their rivals. But will Europe’s savers be as patient and keep their money where it is? VOA's Dominic Laurie reports.

Fears for European Banks as Depositors Withdraw Money

Dominic Laurie
LONDON - The European Central Bank has asked financial institutions across Europe to stand behind their struggling counterparts in Greece, Spain and other countries caught in the euro debt crisis.  Banks have an incentive to support their rivals, but will Europe’s savers be as patient and keep their money where it is? 

Hundreds of Greek hotel workers are on strike in Athens. They are angry about plans that could cut their wages by up to 40 percent.  Hotel worker Koukos Panagiotis says that Greeks' everyday lives are already chaotic and that these cuts will completely destroy them. He pleads with people to remember that 70 percent of the workers in the tourism sector are working five months per year and have to support their families on that income for the rest of the year.

Greece is being kept afloat by international loans. In return, Greeks must endure harsh spending cuts and tax increases.  

If Greeks decide in their June election that austerity is not worth it, the country could be forced to leave the euro.  Savings would then be converted to the old currency, drachmas, very likely worth much less.  

So some Greeks have been taking their money out of banks, often putting it abroad. About a third of bank deposits have been withdrawn during the past two years.

Spain also faces a heavy debt burden. There have been noisy protests like in Greece, but here the withdrawal of savings has been less dramatic, less than five percent of deposits during the past year.  

But if the pace increases, the effect would be amplified because Spain’s banks are so much bigger than Greece’s. Only now, four years into the financial crisis, is Spain starting to come to terms with how weak its banks are. A bank called Bankia asked for a $23 billion bailout last week.

The Spanish prime minister tried to reassure the markets that everything is stable.  But Bankia’s share price has fallen sharply. Financial analyst Enrique Quemada says there is little trust in the banking system.

He says that people and investors do not believe Spain will be capable of fulfilling its deficit reduction promises because they have heard Spain say they would hit a budget deficit of six percent, then it was 8.5 percent and then it ended up being 8.9.

Chris Roebuck, from London’s Cass Business School, says that lack of trust means there could soon come a moment when bank customers in healthier eurozone countries move their funds elsewhere.

"If they see contagion spreading into panic in those countries, they will be asking themselves, 'Could this get to our country?'  They will ask themselves the question, 'What do I think the risk is?'  And if they think the risk of the whole house of cards coming down is high, they are potentially going to tip from a rational to an emotional response straight away,” said Roebuck.

Interest rates in the eurozone have hardly ever been lower.  The longer they stay that way, the more savers might decide the meager returns are not worth the risk, and take their money elsewhere.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

US Secret Service Head: White House Security Lapse 'Unacceptable'

update Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after a recent intrusion at the White House: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid