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In April 2011 I wrote a piece, entitled “It is the German banks stupid” in which I claimed that the primary reason why Europe was allowing a preventable debt crisis to engulf the Periphery had to do with the sorry state of the German banks and with the determination of the German government to do nothing that exposes their precarious condition. I called it the Great Banking Conundrum: how to deal with the Periphery’s public debts without revealing the depth of the black holes in Germany’s (and, less so, France’s) private sector banks. In that piece I opined that the powers that be in Frankfurt and Berlin were busy worrying about Germany’s banks:

“Only they do so in secret, behind closed doors, struggling to find a solution to the Great Banking Conundrum behind the European people’s backs and away from the spotlight of publicity. Their deliberations are now in a new phase, taking their cue from the Greek debt crisis. Lest I be misunderstood, the Greek crisis, however monstrous by Greek standards, is in itself no more than an annoyance for Europe’s surplus countries. A gross sum of €200 to €300 billion could be restructured quite easily or at least dealt with somehow. Its significance lies in the opportunity it offers Germany for revisiting the European banking disaster in its entirety. The Greek debt restructure, with its repercussions on Europe’s banks, is a useful case study; a dress rehearsal; an excuse to begin the process of taking the broader Great Banking Conundrum more seriously.”

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