ECB: Credit risk for Italian companies

Bank ready to intervene, euro states must request spread shield

10 August, 11:43

(ANSAmed) - ROME, AUGUST 10 - The European Central Bank has warned against the risk of insolvency for companies in the eurozone, in Italy in particular.

The bank said it was ready to intervene to halt the rise of the spread but warned that countries should implement reforms first and request a European bailout accepting its conditions.

The ECB said the financial situation of banks, families and companies in countries involved in the debt crisis remained difficult. Loans in the private sector only grew 0.3 percent in June in the 17-member eurozone, lowering to 0.2 percent as far as companies were concerned.

The ECB spoke about a deteriorated credit risk of companies in the area. "Across the larger euro area countries, this rise was particularly pronounced for Italian firms, while it was rather subdued for Dutch and German firms". The institution spoke about a 'contamination' which has extended to Rome and Madrid.

Overall, one fourth of companies listed in Europe has a 5 percent insolvency risk in the next 12 months, a problem which could lead the European Bank to give major loans to banks in order to re-activate credit, according to Fitch.

The OECD has anticipated a weak growth in the eurozone and a slowdown in Italy. Unemployment in the 17 euro member countries is continuing to grow, the ECB said, especially among young people.

In this context, the bank is ready to support the ESM/EFSF lending programs with market operations of adequate entity in order to achieve its objective.

However, the ECB noted in its monthly report that it is of crucial importance that EU countries are prepared to trigger the ESM/EFSF lending programs under exceptional circumstances.

The ECB in turn will play its role in order for countries to reduce their deficits, carry out structural reforms and build an institutional European structure.

However, the flight of investors from countries with high debts risks to continue in spite of Mario Draghi's engagements: Goldman Sachs is only the last investment bank to reduce its exposure towards Italian debt with -92 percent in the second trimester, totalling 191 million dollars at the end of June from the 2.51 billion at the end of March.

That is why many in the ECB council are demanding prompt action, including the governor of the Bank of France, Christian Noyer, according to whom intervention by the bank should start "very quickly" and be significant enough to have a strong impact on markets.(ANSAmed)

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