Andreas Scholz and Gabi Thesing
Oct. 1 (Bloomberg) — European Central Bank President Jean- Claude Trichet said U.S. lawmakers must pass a $700 billion rescue package for banks to shore up confidence in the global financial system.
“It has to go, for the sake of the U.S. and for the sake of global finance,” Trichet said in an interview in Frankfurt with Bloomberg Television late yesterday. “I am confident, but of course it is the decision of the U.S. Congress.”
President George W. Bush and Senate leaders yesterday vowed to revive a plan aimed at buying distressed assets from banks that was rejected by Congress a day earlier. The vote roiled markets already struggling to cope with the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. European governments have helped rescue at least five banks since Sept. 28, with Trichet taking part in talks to save Belgium’s Fortis over the weekend.
Trichet said a pan-European approach to the banking crisis was unlikely, saying “we are not a fully-fledged federation with a federal budget.”
“Each country has to mobilize its own efforts,” said Trichet. “But of course there is a European spirit and that is the spirit of the single market.”
Trichet declined to answer questions about ECB monetary policy before tomorrow’s interest-rate decision. All 58 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News expect the central bank to keep its benchmark rate at 4.25 percent.
U.S. stocks plunged after lawmakers rejected a proposal that would give the Treasury broad power to buy mortgage-backed securities saddling investors and financial institutions with losses. Banks have recorded $588 billion in writedowns since the start of last year.
“I think the message from the markets yesterday was clear,” Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell said on Sept. 30.
Stocks rebounded yesterday on optimism the bill will be passed later this week. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index rose 58.35 points to 1,164.74, recouping more than half of the previous day’s 8.8 percent plunge.
European leaders are trying to better coordinate their response to the financial crisis. Luxembourg Finance Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said yesterday he expects to meet with Trichet and French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Oct. 4 to discuss “a more systematic approach.”
“What’s needed is for us to continue to tell our fellow citizens that we will ensure price stability,” Trichet said in an interview broadcast yesterday on the France 2 television channel.
Trichet’s ECB has so far chosen not to follow the Federal Reserve in slashing interest rates since credit markets seized up 13 months ago, injecting cash into their markets instead, while keeping monetary policy focused on inflation.
The ECB today drained 173 billion euros ($242 billion) from money markets after being swamped with record deposits from banks.
Financial institutions yesterday deposited 102.8 billion euros with the central bank at 3.25 percent overnight. At the same time, banks borrowed 15.9 billion euros at the emergency marginal rate of 5.25 percent.
The ECB today also raised the amount of dollars it is offering banks overnight to $50 billion from yesterday’s $30 billion. It allotted the full $50 billion after banks bid for a total of $70.9 billion.
Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg on Sept. 28 agreed to inject 11.2 billion euros ($16 billion) into Fortis, the largest Belgian financial-services company.
Governments and other authorities have also taken steps to protect the U.K.’s Bradford & Bingley Plc, Brussels- and Paris- based Dexia SA, Iceland’s Glitnir Bank hf and Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding AG. Ireland yesterday guaranteed the deposits and borrowings of six lenders.
To contact the reporters on this story: Gabi Thesing in Frankfurt at firstname.lastname@example.org; Andreas Scholz in Frankfurt at email@example.com
Last Updated: October 1, 2008 11:04 EDT