UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from The Great Debate UK:

EU stress tests: for banks or governments?

- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-

Worries about Europe’s banking system go back at least to 2007, but whereas the U.S. (and UK) banks appear to have weathered the storm, there are fears that for European banks the worst may lie ahead.  Concerns centre on four areas.

First, there are obvious worries about Greece and the other small countries facing debt problems, notably Portugal and Ireland, where the local banks have lent heavily to their governments and in addition may need to make provision for a substantial build-up in the level of bad debts in their respective corporate sectors as their economies struggle through the recession.

Second, there are worries about the small-to-medium banking sector in Germany, where some of the first signs of the oncoming crisis appeared early in 2007. It is hard to tell how seriously we should treat these concerns, because the Landesbanken are closely linked to their regional (“Land”) governments, so the question is unusually sensitive.
Third, there are worries about the European giants, especially the big French and German banks.