In a huge demand for loans by banks, the European Central Bank has lent out a total of €489 billion (about £375 billion) to Eurozone banks to ensure continued liquidity.

This was more than the estimated maximum of €450 billion and well above the €293 billion median estimated in a recent Bloomberg News survey.

The loans went to 523 banks, which is less than half the number that loans went to in June 2009, when the number was 1,121. But in 2009 the total loaned out was €47 billion less at €442 billion.

So more has been borrowed and it has been concentrated into far fewer banks.

The idea is that the banks will then be able to maintain lending to both companies and families.

The French President Nicolas Sarkozy has also suggested that the banks could use the loans to buy up some more government sovereign debt. After all Italian and Spanish debt yields are quite high at the moment compared to the average 0f 1% rate at which Bllomberg says the banks borrowed it from the ECB.

But as the BBC points out, analysts are not sure that the banks will use the money for this purpose. Some may well use it just to bolster their balance sheets.

There is also the question of whether the banks want to actually expose themselves to more sovereign debt. After all Eurozone countries are under the threat of rating downgrades and banks need AAA rated bonds. So why buy them if you may be potentially forced to sell later at a loss?

It is also unclear as to where this money is really coming from.

The hope is that these loans will give the banks sufficient liquidity for the next three years, but many pundits are saying that this is still just once again treating the symptoms, not the disease (the debt mountain), and that it is just another ‘kick-the-can-down-the-road’ measure.

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