Financial leaders are sounding the alarm for unified stability, but the usual suspects are dragging their heels once again.
By Sheila Bair, contributorFORTUNE -- Europe is starting to look more and more like the U.S. as it headed for the cliff in the fall of 2008. The continent's banking system is fragile and overleveraged. Making a scary situation even scarier is the lack of a central, credible authority to protect European bank depositors against losses should their banks fail. While Europe has not experienced any bank runs -- yet -- banks in Greece, Spain, and, to a lesser extent, Italy have experienced bank "jogs," in which depositors have withdrawn significant amounts of cash. Customers in those troubled nations are protected by national deposit insurance systems, but they are understandably skittish, since those systems are only as good as the banks and governments backing them.