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Pressure piles on Germany to save the eurozone as debt crisis deepens

PRESSURE was mounting on Germany today to "save" the eurozone.

As finance ministers from across the zone met to approve the next tranche of emergency loans for Ireland, focus turned to Angela Merkel's stance on the crisis.

In an unusual move, the Polish foreign minister Rdoslaw Sikorski declared that the biggest threat to his own nation's security was not terrorism, or German tanks, or even Russian missiles, but the collapse of the euro.

"I will probably be the first Polish foreign minister in history to say so, but here it is: I fear German power less than I am beginning to fear German inactivity," he said.

But Germany's finance minister Wolfgang Schauble has rejected calls for the European Central Bank to act as a "lender of last resort" in the eurozone. And he dismissed demands for jointly guaranteed eurozone bonds to relieve the pressure on the most heavily debt-strapped nations.

The OECD called for "a substantial relaxation of monetary conditions" to help cure the eurozone debt crisis.

This is widely understood to be a demand for cuts in eurozone interest rates.

Minsters from the eurozone were today trying to agree on new details for the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF).

They are hoping to make the fund large enough to support Italy or Spain if the crisis deepens further.

Detailed guidelines for the EFSF are said to be ready for approval by the ministers, opening the way for new operations and multiplying the fund's size.

Fund

The guidelines should clear the way for the €440bn facility to attract cash from private and public investors in coming weeks.

It is also expected that the latest agreement will try to lure private investors back to the bond markets by offering partial protection on their purchases of eurozone sovereign bonds. It is hoped that this will help boost demand and lower sovereign funding costs.

Meanwhile, international ratings agency Moody's has warned it could downgrade the subordinated debt of 87 banks across 15 EU nations.

No Irish institutions are listed among the banks on Moody's radar.

The agency said the downgrades would be on concerns that governments would be too cash-strapped to bailout holders of riskier bank debt in times of stress.

Moody's said the greatest number of ratings to be reviewed were in Spain, Italy, Austria and France.

Moody's also warned that the risk to ratings could extend outside the borders of the European Union to "other closely integrated markets" such as Norway or Switzerland.


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