Talking Point
Memories of Sisyphus: European banks are back where they started
European banks have enjoyed a good start to the year. Revenues have risen, much more than costs. Loan loss provisions have remained low. Bottom-line profit has jumped by more than 40% compared with 12 months ago. However, the rebound has followed what was a weak period in the previous year – in fact, the industry is in many ways just back where it was in Q1 2015. What is more, judging only by the P&L, there has been relatively little change since the European debt crisis erupted in Greece seven years ago. The industry has more or less been treading water ever since, a frustrating experience after decades of strong growth and massive recent restructuring efforts. However, other performance indicators clearly show major improvements, not least with regard to banks’ de-risking and buildup of capital. [more]
Talking Point
Fewer crisis spots on the euro-area housing market
The massive overvaluations on the euro-area market for residential real estate (as measured by the price-income ratios for 2007 and 2008) are a thing of the past. Currently, house prices are excessive only in several smaller countries. However, this situation is likely to change towards the end of the decade if the dynamic uptrend in German house prices continues as expected. [more]
Germany
Focus Germany: Positive signs
Growth in global trade almost stagnated at just 1.3% in 2016, and in some months was even negative. During winter, global trade picked up again, rising by around 3% compared to the same period a year earlier. Given the positive sentiment prevailing across the globe, this rebound could well continue. However, this trend is not yet being fully reflected in other hard economic indicators, usually highly correlated with global trade, and sentiment may therefore overstate the actual trend a little. Still, our simple model of world trade, which suggests moderate growth of just over 2% in 2017 and around 3% in 2018 might represent the lower limit of the forecast range. However, compared to previous cycles the upturn could remain weak, not least because of the global trade restrictions that have been progressively ratcheted up since 2008. (Further articles: Germany’s employment miracle, German election campaign not in full swing, yet) [more]
Global financial markets
Large or small? How to measure bank size
Policymakers, clients and bankers themselves wish to know what constitutes a large bank. What is the right indicator to look at if a supervisor is interested in systemic importance and risks to financial stability? What is the right indicator to look at if a company needs a bank that can provide large-scale financing and take on substantial hedging risks? Various measures are currently in use, each with strengths and shortcomings. Regulators and academics mostly look at total assets, an accounting figure. Others reach conclusions from Tier 1 capital or market cap, two regulation- and market-based indicators. This study discusses these and other measures in detail. It draws quantitative comparisons, including across countries and different financial systems, and proposes one indicator that is best suited to measure bank size. [more]
 
 
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