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Corona crisis: The sovereign-bank nexus is tightening

July 1, 2020
Governments in many countries are facing growing funding needs as they implement large fiscal stimulus packages to counter the severe economic downturn caused by the corona pandemic. Besides central banks, banks are financing more than half of the rising expenditures, which is affecting the composition of their balance sheets. [more]

More documents about "Banking and financial markets"

177 Documents
March 25, 2021
2020 was an extraordinary year for banks, as for most other industries. In Europe, banks barely made money, as revenues fell substantially and loan loss provisions doubled. Expense cuts cushioned the blow only partly. Capital and liquidity ratios reached record highs though, thanks to disciplined risk management and funding support from central banks. Once again, European banks underperformed their US peers. But how do their results compare in the longer term, ten years after the end of the financial crisis, and also vis-à-vis smaller competitors? [more]
March 22, 2021
The coronavirus pandemic has caused a surge in public debt and highlights the need to tackle sovereign risk on bank balance sheets, which remains a threat to the stability of the Banking Union. Euro-area banks hold bonds and have granted loans to their domestic sovereigns worth a combined EUR 2.1 tr, equalling 6.2% of total assets. Among the largest countries, banks in Italy have the highest exposure relative to capital (194%), followed by Spain (105%), whereas it is much lower in Germany (67%) and France (60%). Sovereign risk must be mitigated to finalise the Banking Union but this will require some honest acknowledgements by supervisors and entail restrictions for banks and politicians. [more]
February 5, 2021
2020 ended on a conciliatory note for European banks. Following a heavy hit in H1, H2 saw a dynamic recovery in the economy and financial markets, which helped slow down the rise in loan loss provisions and buoyed trading income. Corporate loan growth stabilised but remained elevated and retail lending shrug off the crisis, while banks’ liquidity reserves at the ECB surged to unprecedented and unsustainable levels. Government bond holdings initially rose strongly before calming down a bit. Capital and liquidity ratios weathered the crisis well, without even needing support from supervisors which relaxed a number of rules, at the risk of undermining confidence and transparency though. The outlook for 2021 is more benign with bank profitability set to rebound significantly thanks to much lower loss provisions. [more]
December 4, 2020
Germany’s main stock market index, Dax, is undergoing its biggest rule makeover so far. The number of constituents will rise from 30 to 40, trading volume will be dropped as a selection criterion and new members must have been profitable for two years before first-time admission. Governance standards are also tightened. While the index will become more diversified and slightly “younger” as a result, the enlargement will not reduce the massive overweight of the manufacturing sector. The new profitability requirement creates a questionable bias against young and rising start-ups. Furthermore, index rules cannot solve the fundamental problems hindering a stronger stock market (culture) in Germany – only policymakers can and should. Germany’s share in global market cap is only about half of its weight in the global economy. The most valuable company in the world is worth more than the entire future Dax 40 combined. [more]
November 6, 2020
The corporate sector in Germany and particularly SMEs have become more resilient in terms of funding which should help them weather the corona shock. Current financing conditions also remain favourable: banks have hardly tightened lending standards, the government has issued unprecedented credit guarantees and the ECB is eagerly buying corporate bonds. Nonetheless, corporate insolvencies will rise as a result of the deep recession. Because the government has temporarily waived the obligation to file for bankruptcy, insolvency numbers have continued to fall until now but this may change soon. Rising loan losses will have a significant impact on German banks which are already exhausted by years of zero interest rates and low structural growth. With loan loss provisions possibly tripling, the banking industry will probably record a net loss this year. [more]
November 2, 2020
Q3 GDP surprise: A rear mirror view – but obstacles right in front. With the partial lockdown during November, the economy will almost certainly see another negative quarter, even in an optimistic scenario where restrictions succeed in squashing new infections and will be completely abolished by the end of November. Prepare the German healthcare sector for regional bottlenecks – protect risk groups better: The number of patients in intensive care and hospital capacity is just as important as the number of new infections. We estimate that 400,000 acutely infected patients are the limit for intensive care units. (Also in this issue: inflation outlook, German labour market, corporate insolvencies, German auto industry, global construction industry, German corona policy, open borders in the EU) [more]
August 27, 2020
Large banks in Europe have taken a substantial hit from the recession induced by the coronavirus. Their revenues dropped 5% yoy in the first half of the year and loan loss provisions spiked, essentially wiping out profits. Nevertheless, the CET1 ratio increased to 14% and the leverage ratio dipped only slightly to 4.8%. Total assets surged, driven by a massive increase in liquidity reserves at central banks, a boom in corporate lending and substantial government bond purchases. By comparison, the major US banks have weathered the crisis somewhat better so far. They remained moderately profitable, despite setting aside more funds to cover future loan losses. Their revenues grew 2% yoy, a stronger headwind from the Fed’s interest rate cuts notwithstanding. Capital ratios, however, appear less resilient than in Europe. [more]
July 10, 2020
The coronavirus recession results in large-scale balance sheet changes both at euro-area and US banks. At the peak of the slump, lending to companies and corporate deposits surged further, while lending to households was much less affected. Banks also strongly increased their funding from and liquidity buffers at central banks. Within the euro area, funding from the ECB rose particularly in Germany and France, but remains much more important in Italy and Spain. Purchases of government bonds by US banks were smaller and started later than in the EMU. Over the next couple of months, corporate loans and deposits may gradually come down both in the US and Europe. Banks’ liquidity reserves at central banks are set to decrease, while their government bond holdings are expected to rise considerably. [more]
June 17, 2020
German households saved surprisingly little money during Q1; their bank deposits were only up by EUR 5.8 bn. In the lockdown month of March, deposits even declined by EUR 11.1 bn, as households withdrew a lot of cash due to the uncertain situation. During the current quarter, however, households will probably build up deposits substantially in order to prepare for potential income losses. By contrast, retail loans continued to increase strongly in Q1 and may cool down only in the medium term. [more]
May 26, 2020
Cash was in high demand throughout Europe at the start of the coronavirus crisis. In March, euro circulation skyrocketed by EUR 36 bn month on month. Nearly half of that volume consisted of smaller banknotes, which people use to pay for their everyday purchases. In Germany, however, consumers have increasingly been using contactless payments rather than cash since March as they wish to protect themselves against infection and because the retail sector requests that they avoid cash. Contactless card payments may have replaced a certain share of cash payments permanently even though not all customers who prefer cash will change their payment behaviour. [more]
May 20, 2020
European banks have taken a substantial initial hit from the corona crisis in Q1, but so far digested it relatively well. Nevertheless, more pain is surely to come. While revenues and costs were both down only mildly, loan loss provisions shot up and almost wiped out industry profits. Capital levels dropped quarter-over-quarter, yet less than feared as banks cancelled 2019 dividends. Balance sheets expanded by a record-breaking 10% compared to year-end due to growth in corporate loans, higher liquidity reserves at central banks and increased derivatives volumes. [more]
May 4, 2020
During March, the first month in which the coronavirus pandemic made itself felt in Europe, banks' balance sheets grew substantially. On the one hand, euro-area banks raised enormous amounts of liquidity from the ECB, other financial corporations and non-financial companies. On the other, they just kept a large part of that at the central bank or lent it to other banks and other financial corporations. In addition, banks extended markedly more credit to non-financial firms which likewise stacked up their liquidity buffers to prepare for weaker cash flows as a result of the looming massive recession. The crisis so far had no major impact on banks’ retail business and their holdings of government bonds. [more]