Category Archives: banks

5/4/21: The Coming Wave of Financial Repression

 

In a recent article for The Currency, I covered the topic of the forthcoming wave of financial repression, as Governments worldwide pursue non-conventional fiscal tightening in years to come: Make no mistake, financial repression is coming in the UShttps://thecurrency.news/articles/36547/make-no-mistake-financial-repression-is-coming-in-the-us/



3/11/20: Monte dei Paschi is Eying Another Capital Raise?

Remember them? 

One of Europe's largest banks? Check. The oldest bank in the world with continued trading since 1472? Check. The first bank in history to require a sovereign rescue? Check. In 1624, the Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany rushed to guarantee the deposits of a bank at a time of economic crisis. The only bank in known history that has been bailed out at least five times and nationalised at least twice? Check.

Yep, right, we have the new old news from Italy's Banca Monte dei Paschi di Sienna. Just two and a half years after the last Government rescue in 2017 MPS is now rumoured to need another capital injection: https://www.reuters.com/article/italy-banks-monte-dei-paschi/rpt-update-1-monte-dei-paschi-ceo-tells-board-bank-faces-2-bln-euro-capital-gap-source-idUSL1N2HP0EV

The latest capital call is a mixture of the residual problems from the, yes, now more than a decade-old (hew, what's decades for MPS, right?) financial crisis and the fresh blows to thee Italian (and European) banks from the pandemic. 

Overall, major European banks have been increasing their capital cushions in thee early stages of the pandemic (https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/europe-s-top-banks-bulk-up-capital-cushions-but-market-wary-as-virus-resurges-60666650). And, so far, losses in most banks have been either mild or inexistent, and most certainly well below the original (1Q 2020) expectations (https://www.ft.com/content/4d9ee2a0-8e44-4091-b6b7-ca9302f0f314). But banks are losing capital in bucketloads (https://o.canada.com/financial-times/global-banks-lost-nearly-us1-trillion-in-market-value-in-the-pandemics-first-wave-and-theres-another-one-coming/wcm/fe7ab3c9-3681-4703-9833-91a9baf71796) and losses recognitions cannot be delayed for too long (https://www.euromoney.com/article/27ohbp85c1ossyw7im1og/capital-markets/the-road-ahead-europes-banks-face-limited-options-as-they-cope-with-covids-aftermath). 

All in, with the second wave of the pandemic raging across the EU, MPS's latest problems are probably just an early warning signal for the rest of the Eeuropean banking sector. 

1/6/20: COVID19 and European Banking


McKinsey research note on European banks' potential losses due to COVID19 is quite on the money:


With more than 1/3rd of European executives expecting "a muted recovery that would lead to sharp drops in banks’ revenue, a squeeze on their capital, and a hit on return on equity", European banks can expect revenues to drop by 40 percent plus, and ROE drop 11 percentage points in 2021.

And the problems are strategic. COVID19 is actually accelerating changes in customers' demand for services. "McKinsey’s European customer survey shows how customer behavior and needs have changed over the past month: digital engagement levels have climbed up to 20 percent, the use of cash has halved, 30 to 40 percent of customers have expressed a greater need for advice, while 20 to 40 percent want products to help them through the crisis.4 Pension shortfalls are a particular challenge with those close to retirement facing a very immediate problem."

Alas, European banks, especially those operating in the 2008-2014 crises-hit economies, such as Ireland, Italy, Spain and Portugal, are utterly unprepared for these shifting trends. I wrote about these problems in a series of two article for The Currency here: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/4810/a-catalyst-for-underperformance-how-systemic-risk-and-strategic-failures-are-eroding-the-performance-of-the-irish-banks and https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/3833/culture-wars-and-poor-financial-performance-just-what-is-going-on-within-irelands-beleaguered-banks.

8/1/20: Creative destruction and consumer credit


My new article for @TheCurrency_, titled "Creative destruction and consumer credit: A Fintech song for the Irish banks" is out. Link: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/6150/creative-destruction-and-consumer-credit-fintech-song-for-the-irish-banks.

Key takeaways: Irish banks need to embrace the trend toward higher degree of automation in management of clients' services and accounts, opening up the sector to fintech solutions rather than waiting for them to eat the banks' lunch. Currently, no Irish bank is on-track to deploy meaningful fintech solutions. The impetus for change is more than the traditional competitive pressures from the technology curve. One of the key drivers for fintech solutions is also a threat to the banks' traditional model of business: reliance on short-term household credit as a driver of  profit margins.

"Irish banks are simply unprepared to face these challenges. Looking across the IT infrastructure landscape for the banking sector in Ireland, one encounters a series of large-scale IT systems failures across virtually all major banking institutions here. These failures are linked to the legacy of the banks’ operating systems."

"In terms of technological services innovation frontier, Irish banks are still trading in a world where basic on-line and mobile banking is barely functioning and requires a push against consumers’ will by the cost-cutting banks and supportive regulators. To expect Irish banking behemoths to outcompete international fintech solutions providers is equivalent to betting on a tortoise getting to the Olympic podium in a 10K race."



10/12/19: Irish Banks: Part 2


Continuing with the coverage of the Irish banks, in the second article for The Currency, available here: https://www.thecurrency.news/articles/4810/a-catalyst-for-underperformance-how-systemic-risk-and-strategic-failures-are-eroding-the-performance-of-the-irish-banks, I cover the assets side of the banks' balancesheets.

The article argues that "The banks are failing to provide sufficient support for the demand for investment funding, and are effectively removed from financing corporate investment. In this case, what does not make sense to investors does not make sense to society at large." In other words, strategic errors that have been forced onto the banks by deleveraging post-crisis have resulted in the Irish banks becoming a de facto peripheral play within the Euro area financial system, making them unattractive - from growth potential - to international markets.


The key conclusions are: "From investors’ perspective, neither of these parts of the Irish lenders’ story makes much sense as a long term investment proposition. From the Irish economy’s point of view, the banks are failing to provide sufficient support for the demand for investment funding, and are effectively removed from financing corporate investment. In this case, what doesn’t make sense to investors doesn’t make sense to the society at large."