Sunday, August 5, 2012

Wall St banks prepare for euro break-up

Financial Times
August 5, 2012

Wall Street banks are increasingly telling counterparties and borrowers to restructure contracts or find another bank as they prepare for the potential exit of a country from the eurozone.

Using hedges, such as credit default swaps, US banks have reduced their net exposure to troubled eurozone countries. But they are also engaged in more work behind the scenes to ensure that if a country leaves the eurozone they will not have to receive payments in a devalued drachma or peseta.

The eurozone continues to be the predominant concern of US bank executives, ahead of the faltering US recovery. Last summer the worsening of the eurozone crisis produced wild swings in US banks’ stock prices and led the Securities and Exchange Commission to demand they provide more disclosure of assets in Spain, Greece, Italy, Ireland and Portugal.

An analysis of regulatory filings since then shows JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have generally trimmed their exposure but the picture is not uniform.

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