Monday, November 14, 2011

Lack of transparency leads to anxiety among banks

A NY Times article confirms that the lack of transparency into each bank's current asset, liability and off-balance sheet exposure details is causing tension in the interbank lending market.
The tension in interbank lending is not as acute as it was in 2008 and early 2009, but the underlying anxiety is the same. 
Banks have incomplete information about what unpleasant surprises may be lurking in one another’s vaults, and they are beginning to doubt whether the euro will survive. 
Since 2008, the European Central Bank has been allowing euro area banks to borrow as much as they want at low interest, currently 1.25 percent. It is also lending banks dollars, to compensate for an unwillingness by U.S. money market funds to lend to European banks. 
The amount that banks have been drawing from the E.C.B. has been rising, an indication that many institutions are having trouble raising money on open markets. Last week, banks took out €195 billion, or $268 billion, in one-week loans. That is less than half the levels of emergency borrowing seen in the dark days after Lehman Brothers collapsed, but it is still well above normal. 
“It is not a sustainable level,” said Nicolas Véron, a senior fellow at Bruegel, a research organization in Brussels. What is more, he said, it is an inefficient use of capital because the E.C.B. cash is keeping alive some weak banks. 
“You have a bunch of zombie banks sustained by public intervention,” he said. 
The pain is not equally distributed. Banks in countries whose economies are strong and whose finances are solid, like Germany or the Netherlands, do not seem to be having much trouble raising money. 
“It is not a problem for Swedish banks, because our banks have very little exposure to Southern Europe compared to many other banks,” Stefan Ingves, the governor of the Riksbank, the Swedish central bank, said by telephone.

1 comment:

cough said...

This "anxiety" posting, completely useful..