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European banks: Operating struggles and some external headwinds

January 15, 2019
Banks in Europe face a more difficult business environment in 2019 than last year. While the macro environment is still decent, momentum is cooling markedly. In addition, prominent political risks loom dangerously. On the operating side, banks are treading water. Their limited cost savings are being fully absorbed by declining revenues, and balance sheets continue to shrink despite a moderate pickup in lending. Profitability and capital levels are both stagnating. Only in a benign economic and political scenario will banks be able to return to growth this year. [more]

More documents about "Europe"

146 (37-48)
March 23, 2017
With developments in the UK and the US, populism was a key theme in 2016. But does the perception of 2016 as “the year of the populists” really fit for Europe? A closer look suggests that while populism was an omnipresent theme in public discourse, support for populist parties in polls rather remained stable and elections did not translate into outright populist wins. The rise of populist parties has however been a multi-year trend. Populists can affect national politics in various ways. One possible effect is that forming a government (coalition) often gets more complicated and time-consuming and results in more fragile governments. Another is populists’ potential impact on policy discussions’ style and content. Pursuing policies with long-term benefits but which are often not instantly popular becomes more difficult ‒ both at the national and the European level. [more]
March 2, 2017
The European banking industry suffered a significant setback in 2016. Revenues declined across the board, cost reductions were unable to keep pace and loan loss provisions rose. As a result, net income fell by almost half. Banks resorted to aggressive de-risking, but a shrinking equity base meant that capital and leverage ratios stagnated for the first time since the financial crisis. By contrast, US banks continued to grow and set a new record in terms of nominal profits, widening the gap to their European peers. [more]
February 22, 2017
The headline inflation rates, which have increased substantially in recent months, have rekindled the debate surrounding the ECB's bond-buying programme. German producer prices have also risen sharply in recent times. In December 2016, the prices of metal (up by 5% on December 2015) and energy (up by 10%) increased particularly sharply. Nevertheless, the remaining inputs (weighting: 83.6%) continued to show no inflationary pressure at all. [more]
February 21, 2017
Securitisation markets have returned to policymakers’ attention recently, only this time as a hoped-for panacea to anaemic lending in Europe rather than a culprit for the financial crisis. To date, the focus is largely on true-sale securitisation. Yet synthetic securitisation has notable potential as well, especially for SME lending. Synthetic securitisation saw mixed trends in recent years. 1) Complex arbitrage deals have almost disappeared. 2) Balance sheet synthetic deals have surged to an issuance volume of EUR 94 bn in 2016. Transactions have become mostly private, yet are now much less complex and of robust asset quality. A firm inclusion of balance sheet deals in the evolving framework for simple, transparent and standardised (STS) securitisations would be sensible and could well contribute to a recovery in lending in Europe. [more]
January 24, 2017
It is hard to overstate the importance of trade policy for Europe. The EU28 is the largest trading bloc, the top trading partner for about 80 countries worldwide and ranks 1st for in- and outbound investment. The EU’s free trade agreements (FTAs) vary substantially, depending on partners and policy priorities. “New generation trade agreements” go beyond traditional tariff reductions, including issues like services trade, intellectual property or investment. EU agreements to foster trade (and investment), however, have sparked mixed feelings more recently given the backlash against globalisation as well as EU-internal controversies over the power to strike such deals. Yet, the EU’s ability to conclude trade deals is also contingent on political support. Rising scepticism about globalisation means, that (potential) distributional effects of FTAs and their (potential) interaction with national legislation, is going to feature more prominently throughout negotiations and in the public debate. [more]
December 19, 2016
Regulatory reforms have already reshaped derivatives trading in Europe. The upcoming potential shift towards central clearing for some derivatives classes and the availability of CCPs globally will likely result in some fragmentation in derivatives trading. FX derivatives markets are providing first insights into this: Asia already makes up 26% of global FX derivative trading volumes in 2016. As the Asian exposures of European firms and Asian financial sector grow, hedging currency risks in local Asian markets seem to be becoming common practice. This may fuel the ongoing decentralisation of global derivatives trading and give rise to higher costs for market participants. [more]
December 6, 2016
Inequality is dominating the political debate in various countries still characterised by sluggish economic recovery and high unemployment even several years after the financial crisis. In this note we look at trends, drivers and solutions. Four points stand out from the trends. First, global income inequality has increased over the last three decades. Second, the integration of the EM into the global economy has allowed aggregate income levels to converge towards AE levels, lifting millions out of poverty. Third, the AE have been better able to control income inequality via redistribution. Fourth, aggregates can be deceptive. Rising income inequality is associated with globalisation, technological change and migration. At the same time they have had an undeniably positive impact on aggregate income. The policy dilemma is in resolving the tension between the increase in income and its unfair distribution. [more]
November 18, 2016
European banking sector results improved in the third quarter after a weak first half of the year. Still, all revenue components registered year-over-year declines, only partly offset by falling costs and lower loan losses. While credit growth remains nearly non-existent, deposit growth has picked up further momentum and is now at its strongest since 2009. This comes despite record-low borrowing costs for customers and deposit rates virtually at zero. Going forward, following the US election, one of the biggest unknowns is the future direction of prudential regulation at the global level, where changes could have a material impact on European banks. [more]
September 30, 2016
Brexit affects regional policy both in the UK and in the EU27. It has a direct impact via financial adjustments for the individual funds, and indirect effects, possibly influencing the budgetary debates to come and adjusting regional policy priorities. However, the effects are highly contingent on the timing of Brexit and the planning processes and preparations for the new EU budget beyond 2020. The biggest stakes are potential changes to the structural funds which invest all across the EU. Finally, there is the issue of possible future cooperation between the EU27 and the UK after a Brexit. In principle, regional policy programmes already provide for some options here. However, the specific arrangements and conditions are only going to be defined as part of the negotiations to structure the new relationship. [more]
September 29, 2016
Ensuring sufficient funding for European start-ups forms an integral part of the emerging European Capital Markets Union (CMU). Cost-efficient solutions are necessary to reverse the 40% decline in small IPOs in recent years. To strengthen bank lending to start-ups, reviving the securitisation market and potentially establishing an SME-covered bond market is crucial. Venture capital investments are also subdued – most recently, they were only one tenth of the level in the US. To increase them, institutional investors should be granted more flexibility in their portfolio allocations. Finally, the EU hosts more than 500 crowd funding platforms. A common legal and regulatory approach could stir consolidation and thereby reduce search costs for investors and borrowers alike. [more]