Banks around the world must refinance more than $5 trillion of debts in the coming three years, a massive rollover that poses threats to financial stability and growth.
The need to replace these debts, which are medium and long term, will place pressure on bank profit spreads and in turn may either prompt deleveraging, where banks sell assets that they can no longer economically finance, or simply lead to a bout of credit rationing, where borrowers must pay more to borrow, thus crimping investment and economic growth.
For banks in the UK, according to the Bank of England Financial Stability Report, the refinancings amount to about $1.2 trillion by the end of 2012.
If banks in Britain raise funds at the same pace they have been this year, they will only collect half of their needs in time. This is even before the fact that the banks need desperately to turn some of their riskier short-term funding into more reliable funding with a longer maturity.
“If funding costs increase dramatically, which is perfectly possible in what could be pretty febrile market conditions, that will hit profitability (and the banks ability to raise capital organically) until they are able to re-price loans and facilities,” according to Richard Barwell, an economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland in London.