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European bank performance in review: Hitting the bottom, finally?

March 25, 2021
Region:
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]

More documents from Jan Schildbach

83 Documents
December 17, 2021
Region:
1
The rebound of Europe’s banking sector from last year’s slump in some ways resembles the recovery following the financial crisis. Just the drivers are different. While in 2009 the main improvement came from much lower writedowns on securities portfolios, in 2021 it was much lower loan loss provisions than in the prior year. In both cases, benign capital markets provided an additional tailwind for investment banking franchises. The industry’s capital and liquidity levels remain high. Maintaining this momentum in 2022 will be more difficult as the low-hanging fruit has been picked. But it may still be possible, given past experience and confidence that the macro economy will continue to gain strength once the pandemic (and supply constraints in manufacturing) has subsided. [more]
December 15, 2021
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2
4% GDP growth in 2022, despite technical recession in winter half. A synchronous acceleration should result in annual GDP growth of 4%. In 2023, quarterly GDP growth will slow towards trend. In fiscal policy ambitious spending plans and debt brake commitment lead to open funding questions. Based on the previous fiscal regime, the fiscal deficit is set to narrow considerably. Still, the new government’s big spending plans, which are not yet quantifiable, could drive deficits considerably higher. Inflation decelerating from 5%+ rates, but higher core rate more permanent. Carryover effects and cost pressures will keep CPI inflation elevated. In 2023, headline and core rates are unlikely to fall below 2%. German politics 2022: “Team Scholz” will focus on climate protection and sizeable corporate tax allowances for green and digital investments. German EU policy might be less fiscal orthodox and open to a cautious reform of the EU’s fiscal rules. [more]
November 1, 2021
Region:
3
On face value, the European banking industry has recovered well from the coronavirus shock. Revenues, loan loss provisions and profits are largely back at their pre-crisis level, as is corporate loan growth. Below the surface, some shifts remain – interest income continues to suffer, but fees and commissions and trading income outperform. Funding from the ECB and even more so liquidity held at the central bank move from one record to the next, similarly to capital and liquidity ratios. The gap to US banks has widened further. EU implementation of the final Basel III rules has now reached decision stage, already causing concern about future European competitiveness. [more]
June 10, 2021
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4
Q2 GDP should be o.k., despite April’s little stumble. Strong external demand and depleted finished goods inventories suggest a strong bounce back once current supply constraints ease. Consumers’ economic outlook and income expectations are improving. Together with an expected normalization of the savings rate that should provide a strong underpinning for consumption growth. We stick to our Q2 GDP forecast of close to 2% qoq and 4% for the whole year. The rate of inflation has been rising sharply since the start of 2021. With price dynamics continuing to outstrip expectations and given the prospect of stronger economic recovery in the summer, we now expect the annual average CPI inflation rate to rise to 2.8% in 2021, monthly numbers could even touch 4%. [more]
May 28, 2021
Region:
5
The recovery was quick and resounding. The banking sector in Europe has shaken off the impact of the pandemic and in many ways it looks like nothing happened in the past two years at all. In Q1 2021, profitability, costs, efficiency levels, several capital and liquidity indicators were all similar to Q1 2019. Nevertheless, the crisis has left its imprint: balance sheets are far larger, revenues and loan loss provisions are substantially higher, as is the CET1 ratio. Hence, there is still room for further normalisation. [more]
February 5, 2021
Region:
6
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
Region:
7
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
Region:
8
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
Region:
9
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
Region:
10
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
Region:
11
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]
May 20, 2020
Region:
12
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]
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