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European bank profits rise to post-crisis peak despite lower revenues in 2018 - capital ratios down for the first time

February 28, 2019
Region:
In 2018, net income at the major European banks climbed to its highest level since the financial crisis. Lower administrative expenses and a further fall in loan loss provisions to multi-year lows more than made up for a decline in revenues. Whereas net interest income stabilised, fee and commission income as well as trading income declined. Banks took a bit more risk, and risk-weighted assets edged up. Total capital remained flat despite higher profits as banks increased returns to shareholders and implemented the new IFRS 9 accounting standard. Consequently, capital ratios declined for the first time since 2008. The gap between European banks and their US peers remained huge as the latter benefited from higher interest rates and lower corporate taxes. [more]

More documents from Jan Schildbach

71 Documents
May 20, 2020
Region:
1
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
Region:
2
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]
April 22, 2020
3
The economic slump is taking its toll on the banking industry. For the major US banks, profits in Q1 more than halved compared to the prior year, as loan loss reserves jumped. Revenues declined moderately with weakness in interest income and fees and commissions partly compensated for by a jump in trading income. Deposits, loans and other assets surged because clients hoarded liquidity. Banks’ capital ratios fell only somewhat and they remain well capitalised. Banks in Europe may have faced similar trends overall but will probably have benefited less from the supportive trading environment and suffered more from declining capital ratios. They are also handicapped by their much lower starting level in terms of profitability. [more]
April 8, 2020
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4
The banking industry in Europe is entering the corona recession with strong capital levels and ample liquidity, though still only moderate profitability. Revenues will come under substantial pressure this year, loan loss provisions will jump and net income will fall materially – many banks may well make losses. However, there is likewise massive support from the public sector, with governments propping up the real economy, central banks the financial markets and supervisors relaxing rules for banks. This should mitigate the hit. Nevertheless, the risks are profound and a prolonged shutdown could even trigger a renewed banking crisis. Enormous uncertainty regarding its depth and length notwithstanding, the current crisis may well turn out more severe than the macro-financial shock scenario underlying the latest European bank stress test. Its magnitude could possibly even exceed the financial crisis and the Great Recession. [more]
March 19, 2020
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5
Fighting the corona crisis: Whatever it takes. The government’s support measures so far include greater access for firms to short-time allowance, tax moratorium and the potential provision of state guarantees of up to EUR 460 bn. We expect the government to come up with additional fiscal stimulus measures soon. The budget balance could post a deficit of 3.5% of GDP in 2020/21. (Also in this issue: KfW programmes to support corporate Germany – A primer. Corporate lending in a corona recession: Development banks as an anchor of stability?) [more]
March 18, 2020
Region:
6
Corona recession – depth probably close to 2009 slump. Within days lock-down measures and (temporary) factory closures have reached a level that suggests a far bigger H1 contraction than previously thought. In our new baseline scenario we expect GDP to decline between 4% and 5% in 2020, notwithstanding a recovery in H2, as – in contrast to 2009 – the service sector will be hard hit, too. (Also in this issue: the German government's support measures, labour market, industrial recession, auto industry, corporate lending, the view from Berlin) [more]
February 10, 2020
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7
After very weak December data a small drop in Q4 GDP seems likely. Looking forward, the coronavirus provides a substantial risk for the expected global recovery, as hopes were pinned on an improvement of the Chinese economy. We assume that the corona outbreak will shave off 0.2pp of Germany's Q1 GDP, making a technical recession quite probable during the winter half. [more]
December 19, 2019
Region:
8
European banks continue to strive to not fall further behind. Revenues and costs in the first three quarters of 2019 were flat compared to their levels a year ago. Remarkably, interest income rose despite even lower interest rates. Loan loss provisions edged up from record lows. Net profits fell moderately but remained solid. Balance sheet growth was the strongest in years as banks fight to hold their ground against an array of new competitors. Along with the struggle to improve revenues, 2020 may be shaped by Basel IV implementation, continuing geopolitical risk and a fragile macroeconomy. [more]
November 21, 2019
Region:
9
In the lending and deposit-taking business with retail customers, there are substantial differences between the federal states. 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, per capita loan volumes in east Germany are significantly lower than in the west. The latter, in turn, is characterised by a certain north-south divide. Savings banks have a market share of 25-35% throughout the country, whereas cooperative banks have a much stronger presence in the south and west than in the east and north. The large banks achieve an above-average market share of 20-25% in the city states and east Germany. The spread between the federal states is smaller for deposit volumes than for credit volumes. Primarily the savings banks, cooperative banks and other commercial banks have to cope with a considerable deposit overhang and thus an "investment plight" in the negative interest rate environment. In east Germany, the deposit overhang is particularly large. Due to digitisation, changes to the established regional focuses might now be possible. [more]
September 23, 2019
Region:
10
Improved performance in the second quarter has given European banks hope that 2019 may still end on a more conciliatory note and that longer-term prospects are not quite as gloomy as some fear. In H1, net interest income rose year-over-year, despite unrelenting margin pressure. Other revenue components were mixed, with fee and commission income disappointing again. Loans and total assets in general increased. Banks cut expenses further, while loan loss provisions picked up from record lows. In the end, profitability and capital levels remained largely stable. Once more, the transatlantic gulf in performance widened slightly, as US banks reported another rise in net income to a new all-time high. [more]
August 19, 2019
Region:
11
We see Germany in a technical recession, as we expect another ¼% GDP drop in Q3. Our forecast for 2019 is now 0.3%. Given no indication for a rebound we lowered our 2020 forecast to 0.7%. We acknowledge these revisions do not properly account for the recent accumulation of risks. Given the increasingly fragile state of the global economy, the realization of one or more risks could easily push the economy into a completely different scenario, where growth revisions of a few tenths of a percentage point will not be sufficient. (Also in this issue: German automotive industry, chemical industry, house prices, corporate lending, the view from Berlin, digital politics.) [more]
May 23, 2019
Region:
12
Shrinkage – and no end in sight: in the first quarter of the year, the European banks once more saw revenues and costs alike decline compared to 12 months ago (-2% each). Non-interest income was particularly weak. As a result, profitability dipped, with loan loss provisions also rising, albeit from very low levels. Banks tried to make up for the revenue loss by taking more risk and expanding their balance sheets. Total assets and risk-weighted assets both increased by 4%. Consequently, the average CET1 capital ratio fell 0.4 pp yet remained in comfortable territory. [more]
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