Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is the recent bank stress really driven by the sovereign debt crisis?

by Guntram Wolff


October 30, 2011

Stress in the interbank market has increased dramatically since July 2011, and bank stock market valuations have fallen by 22% on average for 60 of the most important banks subject to stress tests. This column argues that bank stock valuation has been affected by the banks’ exposure to Greek debt and that Greek banks were particularly affected. Holdings of debt of the other four periphery countries does not, however, appear to be a strong determinant of stock price movements.

Stress in the interbank market has increased significantly since July. There is now a significant debate on why this is the case and what would be the best way to address it (Financial Times 2011).1 Many have argued that the sovereign debt crisis isthe most important driver of banking stress in the Eurozone. If that view is correct, then the right approach to solving Europe’s banking problem is to solve the sovereign debt crisis. Recapitalising banks instead would be far too costly, in particular if one wanted to cater for a haircut in Italy.


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