Saturday, January 19, 2013

19/1/2013: Euro area banks need EUR400bn in capital: OECD

An interesting article via Euromoney (January 14, 2013) on European banks facing EUR400bn in capital shortfall estimated by the OECD.

A quote:

"A chief gripe is the extent to which European banks have refused to acknowledge their losses and write down bad loans, echoing the comedy of errors that has blighted Japan in recent decades.

... the European Banking Authority’s (EBA) financial stress test in June 2011 – which determined the capital-raising target for the regional banking system for 2012 – was based on an excessively benign treatment of the coverage ratio.

The median coverage ratio of the 90 European banks examined in the test was just 38% to meet the 9% core tier 1 capital ratio target. By contrast, the coverage ratio -  which indicates the amount of reserves banks have set aside relative to a pool of non-performing loans - for US banks equated to 67% in the first quarter of 2011, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. ...

In a November report, before the Draghi ‘put’, Deluard noted: “In its mild form, European banks’ refusal to recognize losses could lead to a Japanese ‘lost decade’: banks evergreen their loans [ie, rolling over loans to borrowers who are unable to pay], regulators agree to play the ‘extend and pretend’ game, and the credit creation mechanism is permanently clogged."

And this week "the OECD, headed by Angel Gurria, added to the chorus of criticism – in contrast to the EBA’s upbeat assessments – by stating that the ratio of core tier 1 capital to unweighted assets of eurozone banks falls well short of 5% “in many cases”. On this benchmark, European banks face a €400 billion capital shortfall, or 4.5% of the eurozone’s GDP."

The OECD’s concern echoes that of the IMF, the Bank of England and the Basel Committee: "banks have inflated their asset values, despite the EBA’s self-congratulatory claim in July 2012 that banks in the region had reached a minimum 9% of the best quality core tier 1 capital to risk-weighted assets, in excess of the current international requirements."

And as OECD points out, the problem is much more than just 'peripheral' banks - the problem is Germany and France.

Here are two slides from my recent presentation on banking sector (I was planning to present more on this at the Irish Economy conference on February 1, but the session on banking got canceled, so will be posting the full slide deck here in few days time - stay tuned).

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