ECB Following US Lead in Handling Greece: Ross


European policymakers are taking a page from their American counterparts in dealing with their sovereign debt crisis, a development that vulture investor Wilbur Ross considers positive.

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While criticizing Greece for the way it has conducted itself during attempts to keep the nation from default, Ross said the European Central Bank and others involved in the process are taking positive steps.

"The ECB is finally starting to act a little more like the Federal Reserve," Ross, president of W.L. Ross, said in a CNBC interview.

Various big-name investors, including bond giant Pimco and others, had been calling for a "euro TARP" to handle the sovereign debt mess. The reference was to the Troubled Asset Relief Program the Treasury Department and Fed implemented to keep the U.S. banking system liquid during the financial crisis in 2008.

The ECB has stepped in with a liquidity fund of its own to assist banks in buying the debt of troubled nations such as Greece, helping avert a crisis at least in the near term.

"Fundamentally it's an issue of the banks," Ross said. "With the monetary moves the ECB has been making, the long-term loans to the banks, liberalizing collateral — all things that (ECB President Mario) Draghi has put and and (Jean-Claude) Trichet, his predecessor, was not willing to put in, I think that's the difference.

"Now you really do have a lender of last resort, whereas a year ago it wasn't at all clear that you did."

Ross faulted the process for rewarding Greece "for failing to live up to its commitments," but said the alternative is even less attractive.

"What do you think would happen to it if it just dissolved?" he said. "If they tried to go back to the drachma, what happens to the banks? What happens to international trade? What happens to the world economy?"