Tuesday, August 23, 2011

22/08/2011: July Banks Survey - Euro area credit supply - drivers

In the previous post I highlighted some new developments in Euro area banks lending to the SMEs and larger enterprises (post link here). In this post, let us consider the data (through July) from the ECB's Banks Lending Survey for the core drivers of the structural stagnation and renewed weaknesses that have emerged in the Euro area credit supply.

The survey question we are considering here is: "Over the past 3 months, how have the following factors affected your bank's credit standards as applied to the approval of loans on credit lines to enterprises?"

  • When it comes to the cost related to the bank's capital position, the percentage of banks reporting tighter (higher) costs was 6%, while the percentage of banks reporting easing of capital cost conditions was zero.
  • There were zero banks reporting easing in capital costs conditions in April 2011 and January 2011.
  • 2010 average for the percentage of banks reporting tighter cost conditions in excess of those reporting easing of conditions at the end of July (6%) was identical to the 2010 annual average.
  • As shown in the chart below, bank's ability to access market funding remains on downward trend for second quarter in a row. At the end of July, the percentage of banks reporting tightening of access to market financing was 9%, same as for the three months through April 2011 and up on 4% in H2 2010.
  • At the same time, percentage of banks reporting easing of access to market funding dropped from 2% in 3 months to October 2010, to 1% through January 2011, to 0% in 6 months since January 2011.

And a summary plot of banks access to funding markets, showing new tightening trend:

When it comes to the banks' liquidity positions, the story is also that of continued and deepening deterioration:
  • 10% of banks in the survey stated that their liquidity conditions tightened in 3 months through July 2011, up from 8% in 3mo through April 2011 and 6% in 6 months before that.
  • Only 1% of banks stated that their liquidity positions have eased (improved) in 3 mos through April 2011, the same percentage as in 3 mos through April 2011 and down from 3% in 3 months through January 2011.
Meanwhile, banks competition is now running along a flat trend:
  • In 3 months through July 2011, 82% of the banks in the Euro area reported no change in competitive pressures from other banks, up from 79% in 3 months to April 2011, while 1% reported tightening and 8% reported easing of competition.
  • The same story, but less dramatic, holds for competition from non-banks and for competition from market (non-banks) financing.
  • The percentage of banks that observed tighter expectations of general economic activity in the end of July 2011 was 15%, as contrasted by just 4% that reported easing expectations.
So in summary, despite (or perhaps because of) the regulatory and recapitalization measures deployed, in 3 months to July 2011, Euro area banks continued to shrink supply of credit to Euro area enterprises because their funding conditions, liquidity positions, capital costs and expectations for economic activity were getting tighter. In the meantime, competition in European banking sector, having eased significantly from the peak crisis period, is running at generally depressed levels and along relatively flat trend.

Surely these are not the signs consistent with stable improvement or the end of the crisis?
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