Breakingviews

China’s big banks enjoy calm before the storm

August 26, 2016

Net profits at CCB and BoCom are stable, as are bad-loan ratios: a pleasant surprise given the wider backdrop. This partly reflects a growing gulf in asset quality between large banks and their smaller peers. The giants are probably also putting off recognising bad debts.

Microfinance leaves India’s banks in the dust

August 23, 2016

After the near-collapse of the industry six years ago, small lenders to the poor are back and growing fast. A tight regulatory leash, low bad loan ratios, and high returns make microfinance a more attractive investment proposition than the country’s ailing state banks.

Wall Street dawdling only gives opponents a push

August 12, 2016

Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Morgan Stanley want till 2022 to offload investments banned by the Volcker Rule. They've already had six years to do so, a span when the stock market doubled. Even if the request has merits, it'll encourage harsher scrutiny and talk of more regulation.

Big banks’ stranglehold on UK loosened by a finger

August 9, 2016

British lenders give customers poor service, but a two-year competition probe has offered few remedies. Caps on overdraft charges could cost the largest banks 1.2 bln pounds a year. But trustbusters have done little to improve all-important small business lending.

U.S. bank deal provides a timely reminder on M&A

August 8, 2016

Giant pension fund TIAA is snapping up EverBank for $2.5 bln. Even this non-traditional buyer should be able to slash enough costs to justify the price tag. Earnings-strapped lenders may find acquisitions increasingly necessary. Cash is also becoming an integral component.

Renzi’s MPS gamble works win or lose

August 4, 2016

The Italian premier chose not to haircut the bank's debt for fear of losing a crucial referendum. The alternative - raising over six times MPS' market cap - is hard, but not impossible. If the rights issue fails, Matteo Renzi still wins: it parks the issue until after the vote.

Regions will shore up China’s smaller banks

August 2, 2016

Risk is mounting at midsized lenders, and capital buffers are eroding. Beijing wants to rein the upstarts in, but provinces need regional financial champions to keep lending. As Industrial Bank raises nearly $4bln from backers in Fujian, expect others to follow suit.

from Viewsroom:

Viewsroom: Republican convention, Tesla, banks

July 22, 2016

The confab to anoint Donald Trump the GOP presidential candidate is full of controversy, but short on business support and cogent financial policy. Tesla boss Elon Musk unveils his master plan, to underwhelming response. And there are silver linings to recent ho-hum bank results.

The City will survive Britain’s big rift

July 19, 2016

The UK's Brexit vote threatens London's financial hub-ness, but it would be wrong to think in simple binary terms. Even at worst, the costs to a global bank of staying on in the UK are likely to be counterbalanced by the costs of leaving. And really, it's clients who will decide.

Boosting bank earnings requires more creativity

July 13, 2016

Trading, stock deals and mortgage refinancing picked up in the second quarter. That's a relief after a poor start to the year. But bank returns mostly remain too low and new business too scarce. It puts the emphasis on finding new ways to cut costs and harness technology.