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September 26, 2013
Five years after the global financial crisis hit both the US and Europe, banks across the Atlantic are in very different shapes. US banks have returned to record profit levels, while their European peers are struggling to stay above the zero line at all. The differences are mainly driven by diverging trends in revenues, corporate lending growth and loan loss provisions all of which have developed much more favourably in America than in Europe. This may have been caused largely by three underlying factors: i) the better macroeconomic performance of the US, ii) European banks' less aggressive dealing with problematic legacy assets and their greater need to deleverage and shrink, and iii) differences in the institutional setup - in Europe at times triggering doubts over the very survival of the Monetary Union, in the US allowing the Fed to massively intervene in financial markets. As the US economic recovery gains strength and Europe emerges from the debt crisis and recession, banks face improvements on an operating level, with EU financial institutions likely to narrow but not close the gap to their US competitors. [more]
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