German banking chief presses politicians for crisis action

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The head of the German banking federation BdB, Andreas Schmitz, urged the government Wednesday to take a leading role in the eurozone debt crisis to prevent a break-up of the 17-nation bloc.

"Monetary union will fail if Germany, its most powerful member, does not assume its role as leader and show the way," Schmitz said in an interview with the popular daily Bild.

The head of the BdB, which represents some 210 private German banks, criticised eurozone governments, notably in France and Germany, for hesitation as the crisis worsened.

"The political sphere cannot do anything about falling stock markets, of course (but) ... The problem is a lack of direction in Europe.

"Governments in Berlin, Paris and elsewhere are not demonstrating courage and taking decisions."

Schmitz said such governments "are letting things go and are allowing themselves to be led by the crisis."

On Tuesday, European Central Bank chief Jean-Claude Trichet estimated that the current financial and economic crisis was the worst since World War II and called on European governments, notably Italy and Spain, to "do their duty" in reducing public deficits and stabilising their finances.

Stock markets rebounded on Wednesday after US Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke said the Fed would keep its main lending rate near zero for the coming two years in an effort to bolster the stalling US economy.

© 2011 AFP

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