Good news: Europe could face “unprecedented” finance risk in early 2012

European governments and banks will be competing to raise hundreds of billions of dollars from investors in the next few months, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi warned Monday, saying the financing squeeze could help push the region into a new recession.

Draghi said that governments and banks in the euro zone have about $500 billion in outstanding bonds coming due in the first three months of 2012. Many of these notes will have to be refinanced with new loans.

“The pressure that bond markets will be experiencing is really very, very significant, if not unprecedented,” Draghi said during a two-hour appearance before the European parliament. He highlighted the danger of banks slashing loans they make to businesses and families if stiff competition on the bond market makes it too expensive for the banks to raise the money they need from investors. Next year “is going to be a difficult year for the banks,” he said.