Banks' most pressing problem
A shortage of capital is a big issue for banks, as I've been blathering on about for days (and see my note of this morning on our banks' meeting with the chancellor and request for a capital injection from taxpayers).
But the really urgent issue is the breakdown of wholesale markets, and the increasing difficulty that almost all banks are having in funding themselves on a day-to-day basis.
The basic problem is that the collapses of Lehman and Washington Mutual have made all financial institutions wary of lending to any bank where there is even a scintilla of risk.
But that's spilt milk.
The more important point is that, across the globe, there are very few banks that are finding it easy to raise money from wholesale sources.
In other words, all this fuss about insuring retail deposits is beside the point.
We all know that governments won't allow retail depositors to lose money - so that's not something to worry about.
A far bigger concern is that most banks are suffering a progressive erosion of the money they receive from other financial institutions.
To date, that's been replaced by colossal loans from the authorities.
It's what I've described as nationalisation by stealth.
But all governments will probably need to do more.
What the Irish government did, in guaranteeing both retail and wholesale deposits in their banks, may turn out to be something of a model for Europe-wide action.
What we may need is a cast-iron pledge from all European governments that they will fill whatever funding gaps emerge at their respective banks from the seizing up of money markets.
It's probably the best outcome that can emerge from today's meeting of European finance ministers.
Bankers all across Europe are watching this meeting, and keeping their fingers and toes crossed, that the finance ministers understand how fragile they are - and that the finance ministers will pledge to keep them afloat, whatever the apparent strain on public-sector balance sheets.