Fears Grow That There May Be 'Another Lehman'

The Titanic

Global markets are heading south on concerns about Eurozone debt levels and the sustainability of the worldwide economic recovery.

Market professionals are worried about 'political' risk factors too - the actions of lawmakers, like German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which simply fan the flames of fear and uncertainty.

And some commentators are now talking about the possibility of a 'Lehman II' - either an event (like the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers in September 2008) that will cause another financial crisis, or the possible failure of another large financial institution, which may be forced to make huge asset writedowns because of exposure to troubled Eurozone countries which may have to restructure, or even default, on their debts.

Here's a round-up of quotes in the media that give some flavour to the issue:

'There's a concern this may be Lehman II. The direct risks of writedowns and loan defaults combined with indirect ones such as mistrust between banks could lead to a systemic crisis'.

Konrad Becker, analyst, Merck Finck & Co (Bloomberg)

'There's a question out there now that potentially we could be talking about a collapse of the Eurozone, or countries breaking away from the Euro'.

Tim Quinlan, economist, Wells Fargo (The New York Post)

'There are some parts of the global economy that are now at the risk of a double-dip recession'.

Nouriel Roubini, Head of Roubini Global Economics (CNBC)

'You are seeing the combined impact of three distinct yet reinforcing factors - greater understanding and concern about the structural headwinds facing the markets, a downwards reassessment of global growth prospects, and large technical unwinds'.

Mohamed El-Erian, CEO, PIMCO (The New York Times)

'The first problem is if the sovereign-debt crisis continues, European banks and insurers are going have to write down their exposure at some point. The second is the economy: if European countries focus on saving, that could strangle growth'.

Daniel Hupfer, M.M. Warburg (Bloomberg)

'The economic recovery story has started to look like a mirage, and the new reality is a return to credit crunch conditions'.

Tom Samuels, manager, the Palantir Fund (The New York Post)

'People are learning to think the unthinkable'.

Willem Buiter, Chief Economist, Citigroup (The New York Times)

'The lack of clarity from the politicians has shattered confidence'.

David Owen, Chief European Financial Economist, Jefferies & Co (The Financial Times)

'If you want to drain a swamp, you don't ask the frogs for an objective assessment of the situation'.

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schauble, talking about financial markets commentators, economists and participants - and not the French (The Financial Times)

'The European Central Bank lost it's virginity. The last couple of days have clearly indicated that we live in a new world'.

Marko Skreb, former Governor of the Croatian Central Bank (The New York Times)

'It's starting to look like one of these tragic stories were one person falls through the ice, then everyone else rushes in to help and ends up drowning'

Edward Yardeni, independent analyst (The New York Post)

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