Breakingviews

Slowing growth exposes Chinese banks’ debt debris

August 31, 2015

Dodgy credits on the balance sheets of China’s four biggest lenders rose 28 pct in the first half of the year – much faster than the banks replenished provisions. Though overall bad debt levels remain low, continued deterioration threatens to reverse years of profit growth.

ABN Amro’s IPO could prove sweetly timed

August 21, 2015

The Dutch bank’s second-quarter earnings doubled to 600 mln euros, justifying state zeal for a reprivatisation. ABN’s first sale may end up a third below the government’s in-price, like the UK’s selloff of RBS. But with the domestic economy firing, pressing ahead makes sense.

Hugo Dixon: Greece may not need debt haircut

By Hugo Dixon
August 17, 2015

No single measure, such as debt to GDP, adequately captures how unsustainable Athens’ balance sheet is. Most other yardsticks show Greece needs debt relief. But cutting the face value of its borrowings is probably not required.

Goldman’s bank deal swaps one risk for another

August 14, 2015

Snapping up $16 bln of deposits from GE Capital helps cut the firm’s costs and reliance on bond market financing. Regulators may be happy, but the more deposits it has, the more Goldman, like Morgan Stanley, can use them to fund some trading. That poses systemic issues, too.

Greece deal leaves euro intact but fragile

August 11, 2015

Athens may get its bailout after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave in to reform demands. Quitting the euro is much less likely. It suggests currency union can bear the near-exit of a peripheral state. Economic rifts between core members, though, remain the big future risk.

Allianz takes Pimco’s fall from grace in stride

August 7, 2015

With assets under management and profit falling, the German insurer’s Pimco arm is still reeling from boss Bill Gross’ acrimonious exit. But Allianz can ride it out. Its insurance division and a growing in-house asset manager mean it can stick to full-year targets.

StanChart hired gun Promontory shoots self in foot

August 3, 2015

New York regulators say the politically cozy firm whitewashed a probe of the bank and have suspended it from advising lenders. The penalty may curb conflicts and stings more than a mere fine. Maybe U.S. watchdogs will take the hint and stop waiving the consequences of misdeeds.

Timing looks right for RBS state selldown

August 3, 2015

Cutting its 79 pct stake in the lender would leave the UK with a paper loss, yet focusing on the exact in-price is unhelpful. Better to sell than hold on for a recovery in price that may never come. Besides, the good vibes that come from less state ownership should limit losses.

Hugo Dixon: Euro zone doesn’t need political union

By Hugo Dixon
August 3, 2015

The Greek crisis has triggered renewed calls for a euro zone government, budget and parliament. But such a political union isn’t needed, desirable or achievable. Instead, the euro zone needs more market-based solutions to thrive.

BNP Paribas’ M&A machine spits out growth and risk

July 31, 2015

France’s top bank by assets cranked out resurgent second-quarter earnings of 2.6 bln euros. Three takeovers in 2014 are delivering results. Yet dealmaking sprawl has tripped up rivals in the past. It might be a good time for the Belgian state to trim its 10 pct stake.