A Standby Program for the Eurozone

The world has a large stake in the resolution of the eurozone’s problems, but those problems might soon become too big for the eurozone's members to address. Fortunately, the world has an institution that can channel the help that Europe needs: the IMF.

CHICAGO – How will the eurozone crisis play out in the next few weeks? With luck, Italy may soon get a credible government of national unity, Spain will obtain a new government in November with a mandate for change, and Greece will do enough to avoid roiling the markets. But none of this can be relied upon.

So, what needs to be done? First, eurozone banks have to be recapitalized. Second, enough funding must be available to meet Italy’s and Spain’s needs over the next year or so if their market access dries up. And, third, Greece, now the sickest man of Europe, must be treated in a way that does not spread the infection to the other countries on the eurozone’s periphery.

All of this requires financing – bank recapitalization alone could require hundreds of billions of euros (though these needs would be mitigated somewhat if the sovereign debt of large eurozone countries looked healthier).