On October 21, the Atlantic Council hosted a conference call discussion with Michael Lafferty, a globally recognized expert on banking and finance, who provided an insider’s perspective on Europe’s banking crisis in advance of this weekend’s critical European Council summit.

“European banking really is at a crossroads – the likes of which we have not seen in modern times,” Michael Lafferty said in his most recent column. As International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde has repeatedly insisted, European leaders are vastly underestimating the need to recapitalize European banks. The options for doing so are difficult and unappealing, and will require sacrifices from taxpayers and shareholders. This will drive a sea change in bank management and structure. But the path to a new system is unclear, and the economic impacts of change could potentially dwarf the 2008 crisis that started with the collapse of Lehman Brothers. As recent meetings of the Eurozone heads of state and G-20 finance ministers have underscored, the markets are reemphasizing the need for Europe to quickly and decisively end the uncertainty surrounding the future of European banks and the Eurozone.

Michael Lafferty, co-chairman of OMFIF, is also chairman of Lafferty Group, an international education, research, and publishing house with a world-wide clientele. He founded Lafferty Group in 1981 when he left the Financial Times, where he was responsible for banking coverage. He worked on the Lex team and the City Desk and was accountancy correspondent. Lafferty is also a fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales.