European stocks soared on Thursday after five central banks -- the U.S. Federal Reserve, Bank of England, European Central Bank, Bank of Japan and Swiss National Bank -- agreed to raise the liquidity of commercial lenders by providing three additional tranches of dollar loans in order to assuage financing pressures.
The new loan offers will be conducted in October, November and December.
As a result, bank shares jumped in European trading – French bank BNP Paribas spiked as much as 22 percent.
Other French banks – which are highly exposed to the sovereign debt crisis – including Credit Agricole, Societe Generale and Natixis also delivered huge gains on Thursday. On Wednesday, ratings agency Moody’s downgraded the credit ratings of Credit Agricole and Societe Generale due to their Greek exposure,
The development comes not only as the Greek debt crisis deepens, but also amidst warnings from Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund that the global economy is sinking into a “dangerous” new phase.
Lagarde told an audience in Washington D.C.: "Uncertainty hovers over sovereigns across the advanced economies, banks in Europe, and households in the United States. Without collective, bold, action, there is a real risk that the major economies slip back instead of moving forward."
Britain’s FTSE-100 index jumped 2.24 percent, while Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC-40 indices each surged 3.17 percent.
While analysts generally praised the coordinated action by the central banks, some seemed unconvinced it would do much to solve Europe’s seemingly intractable debt crisis.
“It is no silver bullet,” said John Higgins, an analyst at Capital Economics in London. “The difficulty that banks have been experiencing in obtaining longer-term dollar-funding has been evident for a while in the currency basis swap market.”
Higgins added: “Even if banks in the euro-zone have less of a liquidity problem on their hands today than they did in late 2008 (due to the generous provision of central bank liquidity, and the belief that as long as this generosity persists other banks will not run into a funding crisis), they have a greater solvency problem. This is reflected in the fact that the cost of insuring against a default by the banks is much higher.”
Similarly, Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak in New York, told BBC: "The stress is still there as long as sovereign debt issues aren't dealt with aggressively, but this move eases short-term funding problems.”
Of course, how this debt crisis is ulitmately resolved remains questionable.
Higgins predicted “a further near-to medium-term escalation of the euro zone crisis involving the default of a sovereign in, and the possible departure from monetary union of, at least one country.”
Moreover, he said, the solvency problem would very likely be swiftly accompanied by a re-intensification of the liquidity problem.
“After all, such an outcome would generate extreme uncertainty,” he stated.
“And what bank would want to lend to another if it felt that other bank’s solvency was threatened by exposure to defaulted government debt?”