Thursday, May 7, 2015

7/5/15: Europe's Non-Performing Loans: Still Rising & Getting More Toxic

In the world of scary stats, there's no place like Europe.

Even the perennial optimists at the IMF - that place where any debt is sustainable as long as there are structural reforms underway - agrees. This is why the IMF published this handy chapter as a part of its Global Financial Stability Report for Q1 2015 (

In this report it said that [italics are mine]: "Asset quality continued to deteriorate in the euro area as a whole in 2014, although at a slowing pace, with total nonperforming loans now standing at more than €900 billion. Furthermore, the stock of nonperforming loans in the euro area is unevenly distributed, with about two-thirds located in six euro area countries. [The stock of nonperforming loans in Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Spain in total amounts to more than €600 billion]. In Cyprus, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, and Slovenia, a majority, if not all, of the banks involved in the ECB’s Asset Quality Review were found to have nonperforming assets of 10 percent or more of total exposure."

Roll in two super scary charts:

So far so bad… But it gets worse. "These bad assets are large relative to the size of the economy, even net of provisions. Euro area banks have lagged the United States and Japan in the early 2000s in their write-offs of these bad assets, suggesting less active bad debt management and more limited improvement in corporate indebtedness."

And another spooky illustration in order here:

Now, let's sum this up: after 6 years of 'reforms', deleveraging, special bad loans vehicles set ups, extraordinary legislative and regulatory measures aimed at dealing with loans arrears, waves of corporate and household bankruptcies, a minestrone worth of alphabet soups of various 'Unions' etc etc etc…

  • Bad debts pile in Euro area is rising;
  • Bad debts pile in Euro area is not matching dynamics in other countries, specifically the economic wasteland of Japan; and 
  • The best performing country in the group - Ireland - has the second worst performing banking balance sheet in the group (even after Nama and IBRC are netted out).

Clearly, successful resolution of the crisis is at hand.

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