Münchau turned in the FT from a Saulus in a Paulus. He might become an AFD voter. He assessest that the total balance sheet of the monetary and financial sector in the eurozone stood at €26.7tn in April this year. How much of this is underwater? In Ireland, the 10 largest banks accounted for losses of 10 per cent of total banking assets in that country. The total loss will be higher. In Greece, the losses have been 24 per cent of total assets. The central bank of Slovenia recently estimated that losses stood at 18.3 per cent. In Spain and Portugal, the recognised losses are already more than 10 per cent, but the numbers will almost certainly be higher. Non-performing loans are also rising rapidly in Italy.

It is hard to believe that the German banking system as a whole is solvent (see graph below).Germay has been running large current account surpluses for a decade, currently at about 6 per cent of gross domestic product. This means German banks must have been building up huge stocks of foreign securities – a large yet unknown proportion of which are likely to default, especially if the main crisis resolution tool turns out to be a bail-in of investors.

On their own, the bad banks constitute about 5 per cent of eurozone banking assets. If you add another 5 per cent from hidden losses, the losses still being generated by the double-dip recession, and future losses through the bail-in of investors, you arrive at €2.6tn. Not all of these losses will have to be made good through a recapitalisation. Some banks may have some capital reserves. Other banks may be closed. But that just distributes the losses from one end of the banking sector to another.

Assume now that my estimate is wildly wrong, and deduct the size of the Italian economy from that back-of-the-envelope number. You still end up with €1tn. With this order of magnitude it mattered relatively little whether the ESM could contribute €60bn, €80bn or zero. Europe’s national governments are clearly incapable and unwilling to fill the gap. And without the money for bank resolution, it barely matters whether the European Commission will become the resolution authority that does not do the job or whether someone else does not do it. That leaves a long period of regulatory forbearance as the most likely outcome – a policy version of pretend and extend. They pretend not to see the losses, and extend the crisis.Kapitalbedarf europäischer Banken beim Ausfall von Staatsanleihen