ROME - The Italian Cabinet passed an emergency decree Wednesday backing all bank deposits up to 103,000 euros ($141,400), the level at which they are currently insured.
The measure was meant to give an extra confidence boost to Italian depositors, who already enjoy the highest level of deposit protection in Europe.
Premier Silvio Berlusconi said that there was enough liquidity in the Italian bank system to ensure that no Italian depositor will lose any money.
"No Italian bank will fail and therefore no depositor risks anything," Berlusconi said after a brief meeting of his Cabinet Wednesday night in Rome.
Bank of Italy President Mario Draghi said the move was done "out of caution."
Shares in Italian banks have been hard hit in the last 10 days, none worse than Italy's largest bank, Unicredit, which has taken steps to improve its capital ratio and stave off a hostile takeover.
On Monday, Italy's benchmark S&P/Mib hit its lowest level since the index was established in September 2004. On Wednesday it closed down 5.71 percent.