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Sunday, September 16, 2012 1:55 PM

Austria Central Bank, Germany Place Conditions on Spain Bailout and Bond Purchases

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The head of Austria's central bank, Ewald Nowotny, and German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble have both made statements over this weekend that affect bailout options for Spain.

In particular, Nowotny says Spain must seek help before ECB buys bonds.

Spain would have to apply for a rescue package before qualifying for inclusion in the European Central Bank's plan to buy debt of struggling euro zone members, ECB policymaker Ewald Nowotny said.

Nowotny told Austria's Profil weekly that it was up to individual countries to ensure the ECB's bond-buying plan helps to overcome the euro zone's sovereign debt crisis.

Nowotny also questioned the wisdom of awarding equal voting rights to all national central bank governors in the ECB Governing Council, suggesting big countries should have more say.

His comments to Profil at the weekend were published after the head of Germany's influential Bundesbank was outvoted when the ECB agreed this month to buy bonds of debt-laden euro zone members that sought an international rescue.

"We always seek consensus. There are few cases where that is not the case, and then it can come to a vote. You cannot see as unproblematic that every governor has the same vote," Nowotny was quoted as saying in the magazine.
Further Steps Needed

Wolfgang Schaeuble says Further Steps Needed Before Banks Tap ESM
Handing bank oversight to the European Central Bank is not in itself sufficient to allow the euro zone's rescue fund to directly assist banks, Germany's Finance Minister said, warning he expected no such deal on supervision in 2012.

Wolfgang Schaeuble made the comments after talks between EU finance ministers on Saturday exposed deep divisions about a proposed banking union. That may disappoint investors who had been pinning hopes on a pledge by euro zone leaders to agree sweeping new powers for the ECB in 2012.

This in turn had been expected to unlock the possibility of direct aid to banks from the euro zone's rescue fund, the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), for countries such as Spain or Ireland.

"We have the declaration of the heads of governments of the euro zone that European banking supervision is a necessary but not sufficient prerequisite," Schaeuble told reporters after the ministers' meeting in Cyprus. "The rules of the ESM remain."

He said any country that is home to troubled banks would still need to apply for an adjustment program through the ESM.

The remarks contrasted with those of French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici, who called for quick action and underlined the commitment by euro zone leaders to reach a deal this year.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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