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European banks: Shrink to (pro)fit

March 19, 2018
The major European banks have seen their revenues stabilise in 2017, and through further cost-cutting and improvements in asset quality, their profitability rebounded strongly to the second-best figure in the past decade. However, banks continued to shrink, and both total assets and risk-weighted assets fell substantially. This helped capital and leverage ratios to reach new record highs, finally laying questions about the sector’s capitalisation levels to rest, at least on aggregate. Large European banks lost ground versus smaller competitors and also remained far behind their US peers, although they were able to catch up somewhat on this front. [more]

More documents from Jan Schildbach

73 (49-60)
December 16, 2013
Following years of struggle and having seen their world turned upside down, European banks may finally be heading for a (somewhat) smoother ride in 2014. Profitability is returning, though so far this is mainly driven by lower extraordinary charges rather than improvements in revenues and costs. Pressure to build capital may lessen thanks to significant progress over the past two years, yet currently banks are still shrinking relentlessly. Much will also depend on regulatory and supervisory actions, especially on how the EU Banking Union is implemented. [more]
September 26, 2013
Five years after the global financial crisis hit both the US and Europe, banks across the Atlantic are in very different shapes. US banks have returned to record profit levels, while their European peers are struggling to stay above the zero line at all. The differences are mainly driven by diverging trends in revenues, corporate lending growth and loan loss provisions all of which have developed much more favourably in America than in Europe. This may have been caused largely by three underlying factors: i) the better macroeconomic performance of the US, ii) European banks' less aggressive dealing with problematic legacy assets and their greater need to deleverage and shrink, and iii) differences in the institutional setup - in Europe at times triggering doubts over the very survival of the Monetary Union, in the US allowing the Fed to massively intervene in financial markets. As the US economic recovery gains strength and Europe emerges from the debt crisis and recession, banks face improvements on an operating level, with EU financial institutions likely to narrow but not close the gap to their US competitors. [more]
June 11, 2013
Since the height of the financial crisis at the end of 2008, the use of different debt finance instruments by companies in the euro area has been diverging remarkably: whereas the outstanding volume of traditional bank loans has fallen by about EUR 360 bn on aggregate (-7.4%), net issuance of corporate bonds (i.e. long-term debt securities) has amounted to almost exactly the same cumulative (but positive) figure over the same period of time (a rise by 63%). [more]
November 20, 2012
The political dynamics in Europe have shifted against universal banks in recent months. This is a dangerous development that threatens the key role such banks play in modern economies and risks eliminating many of the advantages universal banks have to offer: in a “one-stop shop”, they provide their customers with a broad range of tailor-made services, higher volumes of credit and lower funding costs than narrower “specialist banks”. In addition, thanks to the diversification of their operations and the potential to leverage revenue and cost synergies, universal banks tend to be more stable than specialist banks. They also provide for diversity in bank business models and are better positioned to monitor the financial health of specific clients as well as to spot unsustainable risk accumulation across financial markets. [more]
May 2, 2012
Deposits are the most important source of funding for European banks, providing about 60% of the total. At the same time, private-sector deposits tend to be less volatile than other funding instruments. The importance of deposits is set to increase even further in the medium term because of new regulatory requirements and higher levels of risk aversion at banks. Boosting deposit volumes could enable moderate growth in bank assets and thus also an increase in lending to the private sector over the coming years. However, this would require that households hold a larger share of their savings in the form of deposits and invest a smaller proportion in insurance policies. [more]
April 5, 2012
For the first time in at least a decade, all major revenue components at the 20 largest European banks declined simultaneously. Apart from trading income (-24%), the decrease was modest (interest income -0.5%, fees & commissions -1%) yet the looming challenge for banks’ business models has finally become crystal clear: there is no obvious driver for future growth. [more]