European Leaders Vow Bank Guarantees

European leaders agreed to guarantee bank borrowing and use government money to prevent big lenders from going under, trying to stop the financial hemorrhage and stave off a recession.

At a summit chaired by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, leaders of the 15 countries using the euro offered their most detailed battle plan yet for bandaging the crippled credit markets and halting panic among investors.

As they improvised a response to the banking calamity that started on Wall Street, Europe's leaders sought to go beyond pledges made by the Group of Seven and to deflect criticism that they are taking scattershot country-by-country steps without a credible joint strategy.

The key measures announced today are: a pledge to guarantee new bank debt issuance until the end of 2009; permission for governments to shore up banks by buying preferred shares; and a commitment to recapitalize any ``systemically'' critical banks in distress.

A communique gave no indication of how much governments are willing to spend or the size of bank assets deemed at risk, leaving unclear the ultimate cost to the taxpayer.,
10/12/2008 1:53:46 PM