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Feb 27, 2015
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Lloyds investment case hinges on its next dividend

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The last time Lloyds Banking Group paid a dividend, Gordon Brown was UK prime minister, Lehman Brothers still existed, and “banker” was yet to become a term of abuse. The fact the UK bank is making its first shareholder payout since August 2008 is therefore an encouraging milestone. But in valuation terms, this year’s dividend is more important.

Feb 5, 2015
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ECB’s Greek bank warning stays within reason

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The European Central Bank is playing politics. Its governing council decided on Feb. 4 to remove a waiver allowing Greek banks to pledge domestic government-backed collateral in return for cash. Technically, the ECB remains within its mandate. In fact, it is pressuring a European Union government to tone down its rhetoric and come to an agreement with its euro zone partners. Yet even in this political role, the ECB’s decision looks reasonable.

Feb 5, 2015
via Breakingviews

ECB’s Greek bank warning stays within reason

Photo

By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The European Central Bank is playing politics. Its governing council decided on Feb. 4 to remove a waiver allowing Greek banks to pledge domestic government-backed collateral in return for cash. Technically, the ECB remains within its mandate. In fact, it is pressuring a European Union government to tone down its rhetoric and come to an agreement with its euro zone partners. Yet even in this political role, the ECB’s decision looks reasonable.

Feb 3, 2015
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Santander’s next task: sustainable profit growth

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Ana Botin has made a good start at Santander. In her first five months running the bank her late father Emilio built, she has taken a markedly different strategy: raising capital, cutting an over-generous dividend, and shaking up the board. Her own legacy will hinge on whether a focus on organic growth, again a departure from her father’s high-octane dealmaking, can deliver.

Feb 3, 2015
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Santander’s next task: sustainable profit growth

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Ana Botin has made a good start at Santander. In her first five months running the bank her late father Emilio built, she has taken a markedly different strategy: raising capital, cutting an over-generous dividend, and shaking up the board. Her own legacy will hinge on whether a focus on organic growth, again a departure from her father’s high-octane dealmaking, can deliver.

Jan 30, 2015
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Greek deposits fly between a rock and a hard place

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By George Hay and Neil Unmack

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The 25 members of the European Central Bank’s governing council must be experiencing unpleasant feelings of déjà vu. In 2012, they allowed bust banks in Cyprus to build up the equivalent of over half the tiny state’s GDP in so-called emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the island nation’s own central bank. That deferred Cyprus’ bail-in, but at a high cost. The eventual rescue and bail-in were more painful when they became unavoidable in 2013. It may be hard to avoid something similar in Greece.

Jan 30, 2015
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Greek deposits fly between a rock and a hard place

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By George Hay and Neil Unmack

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

The 25 members of the European Central Bank’s governing council must be experiencing unpleasant feelings of déjà vu. In 2012, they allowed bust banks in Cyprus to build up the equivalent of over half the tiny state’s GDP in so-called emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the island nation’s own central bank. That deferred Cyprus’ bail-in, but at a high cost. The eventual rescue and bail-in were more painful when they became unavoidable in 2013. It may be hard to avoid something similar in Greece.

Jan 28, 2015
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Mortgage freeze could hasten Greek bank reform

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By George Hay and Neil Unmack

The authors are Reuters Breakingviews columnists. The opinions expressed are their own.

Before asking euro zone creditors to reduce Greece’s public debt, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras might consider making good on another pledge: a permanent mortgage moratorium. Inflicting pain on the likes of National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, Piraeus or Eurobank looks easier and faster than negotiating the country’s bailout terms. Less intuitively, it could also help Tsipras’ Syriza movement trigger a healthy restructuring of the country’s lenders.

Jan 26, 2015
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Greek banks will have to live hand to mouth

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Greek banks have had a hell of a year. In January 2014, the sector’s shares were trading at almost double where they are now, buoyed by inflows of foreign capital. Holders of National Bank of Greece, Piraeus, Eurobank and Alpha Bank could anticipate a future of decreasing government stakes and healthy credit growth. Following the election of the anti-austerity party Syriza, everything is now on ice.

Dec 16, 2014
via Breakingviews

EU insurers’ solvency is shakier than it looks

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By George Hay

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

The capital strength of European insurers is shakier than it looks. Recent stress tests by the European Insurance and Occupational Pensions Authority found that only 14 percent of insurers fell below a baseline level of capital strength under so-called “Solvency II” reforms. That’s not the end of the story, however.

    • About George

      "George Hay coordinates European financial coverage and writes about macroeconomics, the euro zone and UK/European financial policy. He covered European banks for Breakingviews during the financial crisis, and has also worked as a correspondent for AFX News and at United Business Media. He attended Edinburgh University and his work has been recognised at the UK’s Business Journalist of the Year Awards. Follow George on Twitter @gfhay"
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