Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I'm just rhetorically paraphrasing Taleb's description of the investor in his war story...

Nevertheless, I'm taking at face value the claims that the EFSF doesn't have enough capital to "rescue" Spain from a market run. In the current environment, public knowledge that this is the case pretty much guarantees that an attack will be attempted.

So, the baseline scenario is one in which Spain is forced to apply for help from the EFSF and the EFSF doesn't have enough money. Then what? Will Germany, the Netherlands, Finland (by then with the True Finns installed as at least the second party in the country) allow an expansion of the EFSF's capital? Their parliaments might openly revolt even if that would be the easier way to force Spain to dismantle its welfare state, which seems to be the EPP's continent-wide goal here.

If they don't expand the EFSF, Spain would have to default on some of its debt. That would "break up the monetary order", since

The eurozone was founded on the three principles of No Default, No Bailout, and No Exit, which came into conflict during the recent financial crisis.
There are ways to avoid getting there. One is for the ECB to set a ceiling on the yield (i.e., a floor on the price) of Spanish sovereign debt in the secondary market. However, the ECB has so far always done too little and too late of this, because they always wait until the debt is in free fall before intervening, and do so only to stem the fall. This does nothing to stop a run - it just signals to speculators that their attack has been successful.

Another option is for Spanish commercial banks to manage the yield of Spanish debt in the primary market (at the auction stage) and to fund this by repo-ing the bonds at the ECB's discount window. This leads us to a different angle of attack on Spain which is to deny interbank liquidity to the banks - that is, a run on the banks rather than a run on the sovereign (or as a prelude to it). This would force the banks to go to the ECB for liquidity, and last November the ECB forced the hand of the Irish government by threatening to instantly crash the Irish banks by denying them access to liquidity. Had the ECB not done that, we wouldn't be talking about a Portuguese "rescue" since the Irish "rescue" wouldn't have happened as it did.

Recall that, in June 2010, when rumour-mongering about Spain was raging, Spanish banks were indeed having to rely heavily on liquidity from the ECB. The situation was resolved by Spain's Central bank threatening to unilaterally do a full disclosure of their stress test data:

FT.com / Europe - Spain to reveal bank `stress tests' results (June 16 2010)

Spain's central bank has thrown down the gauntlet to bank regulators elsewhere in Europe, saying it plans to publish the results of "stress tests" on the country's financial institutions in the near future to clear up doubts about Spain's banking system.
(my emphasis)

Economics is politics by other means
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Apr 11th, 2011 at 04:51:40 AM EST
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