Belfast Telegraph

EU agrees 'stress test' plan

Banks must go public on loan risks in bid to calm markets

European Union leaders have agreed to go public with the results of "stress tests" on the stability of the banks.

The move is an attempt to restore confidence to markets spooked since Greece secured a bailout from other EU nations to prevent an embarrassing default.

Despite market fears that Spain may be the next country to need a rescue plan, EU leaders meeting at a summit of the 27-nation bloc in Brussels insisted that they are not worried.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said: "We don't believe there is a problem, and that's the analysis of all 27 of us." He added that the European Central Bank and the European Commission agree, and that Europe has "full confidence" in the Spanish authorities' ability to handle the situation.

Europe's debate about making bank results public was revived this week by Spain, which said it would publish the stress tests in an effort to calm market fears that banks have not faced up to potential losses if the economy worsens and house prices continue to fall.

Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero told reporters that the tests would give investors confidence in Spanish banks and "demonstrate that our financial institutions are properly supervised, that they work".

However, maverick investor Jim Rogers said that Europe was just delaying problems and that the best thing for long-term stability would be to let countries like Greece go bankrupt.

"If it went bankrupt it would signal to the rest of the world that they are saying 'we're not going to let people lie about their finances any more, we're not going to let them spend money they don't have, we're going to run a tight ship'. If they run a tight ship the euro would be an extremely sound currency, it would be like the old deutsche mark," he said.

"If you wait five years from now or 10 years from now and there's nothing you can do and the whole system collapses, then you have real chaos in the streets."

The American investor said that although he thinks the euro is doomed he had been buying it recently in anticipation of a rally.

"When no-one wants something that should be a signal to you to think about buying it."

Since the announcement of the Greek bailout, a massive 'shock and awe' €750bn (£626bn) financial rescue package for other indebted countries has failed to turn around the euro's slide as markets eye wider problems across Europe.