On Sunday the much-anticipated announcement from the European Central Bank (ECB) on the result of its Comprehensive Assessment was released. The exercise, which was an in depth review of the quality of the largest European banks' assets that included a review of asset quality and a stress test, has occupied the attention of banks over the past several months. Its completion is a significant milestone and a watershed moment for the Single Supervisory Mechanism (SSM), which formally opens for business on 4 November.
The headline results from the exercise capture banks' performance against capital thresholds set down by the ECB, and the European Banking Authority (EBA), which was responsible for the stress test. As anticipated, several banks (25 in total) have been found wanting. Nine banks from Italy, three from Greece, three from Cyprus, two from Slovenia, two from Belgium and one each from Austria, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, France and Germany respectively. In aggregate the exercise revealed an overall capital shortfall of EUR24.6 billion in the adverse stress scenario across the banks in the sample.
| CA Results analysis tool: Compare the results of the Comprehensive Assessment by Country or bank to the main results data. |
For the banks that failed the exercise, the immediate question is whether steps taken so far in 2014 to remedy concerns about their capital position are enough, or whether more action is required. Some of the options that might be considered, such as the sale of businesses, portfolios or further cost reduction, are difficult to mobilise quickly. In the absence of concrete actions, how effectively those banks communicate their plans over the next few days will be key. The graph below provides an overview of Capital Shortfall as of December 2013 and the current Capital Shortfall after the banks took some action during 2014. As you can see below the Banks have shortfalls that remain unaddressed totalling EUR9.47 billion.
Few banks come away from the exercise unscathed. Non-Performing Exposures (NPEs), a measure of loan quality, were overall 18.3% (EUR136 billion) higher than previously reported, suggesting there is some way to go to resolve financial challenges in Europe.
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