Greece has been forced to activate an obscure emergency fund for its banks because they are running short of collateral that is acceptable to the European Central Bank (ECB).
9:45PM BST 25 Aug 2011
In a move described as the "last stand for Greek banks", the embattled country's central bank activated Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) for the first time on Wednesday night.
Raoul Ruparel of Open Europe told The Telegraph: "The activation of the so-called ELA looks to be the last stand for Greek banks and suggests they are running alarmingly short of quality collateral usually used to obtain funding."
He added: "This kicks off another huge round of nearly worthless assets being shifted from the books of private banks onto books backed by taxpayers. Combined with the purchases of Spanish and Italian bonds, the already questionable balance sheet of the euro system is looking increasingly risky."
Although it was done discreetly, news that Athens had opened the fund filtered out and was one of the factors that rattled markets across Europe. At one point Germany's Dax was down 4pc before it recovered. In London, bank stocks - which have been punished by traders nervous about the European debt crisis - fell again.
In a bid to curb the falls regulators in Italy, France, Spain and Belgium extended their short-selling bans. Although it was designed to support European banks, experts in London reacted angrily to the move, claiming that regulators were wrongly targeting hedge funds.
For article GO HERE
At the moment Britain's Telegraph is providing rolling coverage of the debt crisis.
This is available HERE.