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European banks: Shaking off the shackles of the past year, looking ahead to a better 2021

February 5, 2021
Region:
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]

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