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European banks: Operating struggles and some external headwinds

January 15, 2019
Region:
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 from Jan Schildbach

71 (25-36)
May 26, 2017
Region:
25
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]
April 25, 2017
Region:
26
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]
March 2, 2017
Region:
27
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]
November 18, 2016
Region:
29
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]
August 18, 2016
Region:
30
The European banking industry has gone into reverse gear this year so far, following substantial progress in 2014 and 2015. Its revenues and profits have relapsed into contraction, and the potential for lower loan loss provisions to come to the rescue seems exhausted. Once more, cost cuts have not kept pace with the retreat on the income side. In a market environment that continues to be very challenging, banks may have to resort to even tougher measures to put themselves on a sustainable footing again. [more]
June 21, 2016
Region:
31
After two years of recovery, European banks suffered a setback in the first quarter of 2016. Capital market revenues were hit by concerns about global economic growth and banks’ own business models. Cost cuts and a further decline in loan loss provisions helped only somewhat to smooth the fall in profitability. Still, net income was about the same as in Q1 2014, and progress continued in other areas. [more]
May 2, 2016
Region:
33
In September 2015, the European Commission set out its action plan to establish a Capital Markets Union in order to push for stronger and more integrated capital markets in the EU to better complement bank finance. Creating deeper and more liquid stock markets is crucial in this respect, and also a precondition for European financial centres to regain their position in a global context. Indeed, the total number of stock exchanges operating independently in the EU is astonishingly high, especially in eastern and south-eastern European countries. In addition, market capitalisation is highly concentrated in only a handful of exchanges, and in smaller markets also tends to be lower relative to economic size. [more]
March 17, 2016
Region:
34
Despite headwinds from slow economic growth, low interest rates and tighter regulation, European banks’ recovery continues. In 2015, banks’ core business with the private sector returned to growth, revenues rose and provisions for loan losses declined again. The sector has become more profitable and resilient. Challenges remain aplenty, but European banks are definitely heading in the right direction. [more]
December 18, 2015
Region:
35
With 2016 just around the corner, the outlook for the European banking sector in the new year looks more promising than it has been for almost a decade. Growth, though meagre, has returned to many business segments and regions. Despite unrelenting pressure on interest margins, total revenues are expanding. Asset quality is improving and profits in 2015 may be the highest since 2007. The biggest questions surround the future path of regulation (where another major round of tightening could paradoxically threaten the recently hard-won stability) and of the European and global economy (which has repeatedly and substantially surprised to the downside in recent years) in 2016. [more]
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