Sunday, October 30, 2011

30/10/2011: Irish banking - getting sicker slower in September

Is Irish banking sector getting slowly better - as numerous articles, including in the Irish Times are suggesting on the back of the Central Bank data for September, or is it getting worse slower?

Consider CBofI data for 18 banks, plus numerous credit unions operating in Ireland. In this post we shall cover the entire domestic group of banks, with IRL6 guaranteed domestic banks to be covered in the follow up post.

The first metric by which our banking system is allegedly doing much better now days is deposits. Apparently, in recent month the flight of deposits from Ireland has been reversed. Charts below illustrate:
 Total system-wide liabilities in September 2011 stood at €659,387 mln or €895 mln up on August, but €108,011 mln down on September 2010. So mom we are up 0.14% while yoy we are down 14.07%. Over the 3 months July-September 2011, there were on average €10,704 mln less in liabilities in the system than in the 3 months from April through June. Nothing to conclude about the 'health' of the system yet, before we look at the liabilities breakdown.

So deposits then. Shall we start at private sector deposits?

Total private sector deposits in the system of all banks operating in Ireland have declined from €166,152mln in August to €163,992mln in September (down 1.3% mom), the same deposits are down 6.43% (or -€11,267mln) yoy. July-September average deposits in the system were 1.59% (€2,679mln) below those for 3 months between April and June 2011. So by all metrics here, the system deposits are shrinking.

This shrinking is captured by declines in overnight deposits and deposits with maturity of less than 2 years. Deposits with maturity over 2 years have increased from €10,843mln in August to €10,946mln in September, marking second consecutive monthly increase, this time around - by a whooping 0.12%. Yes, that's right, the first time we discover anything of an increase is in the smallest sub-component of deposits and that is a massive 0.12%.

Yet, we keep hearing about increases in deposits. So let's take a look at all deposits in the system across all banks operating in Ireland:

Chart above provides breakdown of all deposits in the system. This shows:

  • Total deposits in the system stood at €248,861mln in September or 18.12% below their levels in September 2010 (-€55,061mln), but a massive 0.09% up on August 2011 (mom increase of overwhelming €225mln). Quarter 3 average deposits were 10.15% below quarter 2 average deposits (of course most of this decline is due to Government deposits being converted into capital by banks)
What explained this miracle of rising deposits in the system? Was it private sector (productive economy) newly discovered riches or restored confidence in Irish banking system by corporations & households? Nope, remember - private deposits are down, so the increases are broken down into:
  • MFIs (inter-banks etc) deposits were up in August (celebration time, folks) from €101,780mln in August to €103,293mln in September. Impressed? That was 1.49% mom rise, that is contrasted by a 23.32% decline yoy. So in a year we lost €31,419mln in interbank deposits and gained €1,515mln in a month. 20 months left to go till we are back at September 2010 levels. Or relative to peak - we are now €48,066 mln down - so only 32 more months of celebrated increases to regain the peak.
  • Oh, another thing that drove our total system deposits up in September compared to August was an increase in Government deposits from €2,360mln in August to €2,740 in September. 
  • Please note that in 2011, unlike in 2010, there are also some new depositors in the private sector that are potentially channeling new dosh through Irish banks - namely, Nama. That's right, the state agency is, of course, a private company and is cash generative for now. This means that the true decline in real economy's private sector deposits was probably even more substantial than the data shows (next point)
  • Private sector deposits - the real economy in Ireland - have declined in September to €142,828mln - down 14% or €23,252mln yoy and 1.15% or €1,668mln mom. 3 months through September average private sector deposits were 4.44% or €6,720 mln below the average for 3 months through July 2011.

 Now, recall that the other metric of health of the banking sector is the Loans to Deposits ratio - the metric of solvency of the system. Recall that the Central Bank of Ireland is aiming for 125.5% ratio for IRL6 banks (more on these in the next post). So what's happening in this area? Chart below illustrates:

And, folks, we thus have:

  • Overall across the Domestic Banking Sector, LTD ratios have declined from 145.32% to 145.14% between August and September. The rate of decline that would require 182 months to deliver 125.5% benchmark for stability envisioned under CBofI reforms (note: the benchmark of course does not apply to all Domestic Group banks, just to IRL6, but nonetheless, this can be seen as a comparative metric). Year on year the ratio is up 7 percentage points.
  • In the private sector, the LTD ratio actually rose in September to 165.2% from 163.06% in August. Year on year the ratio rose 4 percentage points.

So in summary - there are no signs that things are improving or stabilizing in the broader banking sector in Ireland. The following post will look into IRL6 guaranteed institutions, but as the whole banking system goes, no confidence gained, private sector deposits are continuing to contract, LTD ratio is rising for private sector and the only area of improvement is the inter-bank deposits, which means close to diddly nothing to the economy at large. 

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