Germany’s Bundesbank has fired a warning shot at Chancellor Angela Merkel, attacking the joint EU-IMF rescue plan for Greece as a threat to economic stability and probably illegal.
Leaked extracts from an internal report appeared in the Frankfurter Rundschau and may have contributed to a fresh day of mayhem for Greek bonds. Investors were already digesting reports that Greek residents had shifted €10bn (£8.8bn) abroad over the first two months of the year.
The yield on two-year Greek bonds surged by 136 basis points in early trading to 8.3pc, up from 5.2pc last week. The market stabilised later as Athens announced a 40pc cut in the budget deficit over the first quarter, suggesting that austerity measures are bearing fruit.
The Bundesbank document offers a withering critique of the deal agreed by EU leaders two weeks ago, saying the plan had been cobbled together without consulting central banks and will lead to monetisation of debt. “It brings problems in respect to stability policy that should not be underestimated.”
The joint rescue between the IMF and the EU would turn the Bundesbank into a “money-printing machine” for the purchase of Greek bonds, according to Rundschau. This would breach the EU’s ‘no-bail clause’.
Hans Redeker, currency chief at BNP Paribas, said the report greatly strengthens the hand of EMU critics in Germany. A group of professors is already itching to file a complaint at the constitutional court to block the Greek rescue. “This reduces Merkel’s room for manoeuvre to zero,” he said.
The Bundesbank, headed by ultra-hawk Axel Weber, said the decision to bring in the IMF makes matters worse, arguing that the EU would impose tougher budgetary discipline.
The report mocked the IMF as the “Inflation Maximising Fund”, saying the body had gone soft under Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a French socialist and Keynesian. It has shifted focus from fiscal cleansing to “growth-oriented” financial policies. “Currency reserves from the Bundesbank cannot plausibly be made available for such purposes,” it said.