Exposed Italian banks

Extrait de : Les banques françaises et allemandes exposées à la dette italienne, Le - 12/07/2011

Au total, les 24 pays recensés par la Banque des règlements internationaux (BRI) ont une exposition de 867,3 milliards de dollars.

Les banques françaises et allemandes sont les établissements les plus exposés à la dette italienne, selon les chiffres publiés par la Banque des règlements internationaux (BRI), alors que les marchés craignaient mardi une contagion de la crise de la dette à l'Italie. Les banques françaises étaient exposées fin 2010 à hauteur de 392,6 milliards de dollars (280,6 milliards d'euros) à l'Italie, a indiqué la banque centrale des banques dans ses dernières statistiques.

De cette exposition, 97,6 milliards de dollars sont vis-à-vis du secteur public italien, 41,8 milliards pour les banques et 253,2 milliards reviennent au secteur privé non bancaire, a souligné l'institut d'émission. L'exposition des banques françaises à l'Italie est ainsi bien plus élevée que vis-à-vis de l'Espagne (140,6 milliards de dollars au total) et de la Grèce (56,6 milliards). Au total, les 24 pays recensés par la BRI ont une exposition de 867,3 milliards de dollars vis-à-vis de l'Italie. Les banques françaises détiennent donc un peu moins de la moitié de la dette italienne.

Les établissements financiers allemands ont, quant à eux, une exposition totale de 162,3 milliards de dollars vis-à-vis des débiteurs italiens, soit moins que pour l'Espagne (181,9 milliards). L'exposition des banques d'outre-Rhin par rapport au secteur public italien atteint 51,2 milliards de dollars, 50,2 milliards par rapport aux banques et 60,9 milliards pour le secteur privé non bancaire.

Extrait de: Exposed Italian banks, The Economist, Jul 12th 2011

AN ITALIAN  Finance Ministry presentation in March 2000 trumpeted the “extraordinary liquidity” of Italian bonds, a result of Italy having, “total outstanding debt [greater] than that of France and Germany together”. In those heady first days of the euro, Italy presented its national debt as a virtue. For financial institutions searching for a risk-free asset denominated in the new global currency, Italy promised an endless supply of euro-denominated bonds.

Exposition des banques italiennes

The result has been widely reported in recent days; Italy has the third largest stock of outstanding bonds, after America and Japan. Banks across Europe, and the world, are heavily exposed. Too big to fail and to save, it is feared the scale and reach of Italian government borrowing could break the euro zone.

Yet as analysts scurry to tot up exposure of foreign banks to Italian bonds, something to mull: Italians own a higher proportion of their government’s debt than the residents of any other euro-zone country (Spain follows close behind).

The chart at right is from Barclays Capital. It reflects a now familiar divide between northern and southern Europe. International demand for German, French, Austrian and Dutch bonds is strong—non-euro-zone investors held over 25% of each of those countries’ outstanding debt stocks at the end of 2009. Non-euro-zone investor holdings of southern European bonds were much lower.

In today’s Financial Times, Patrick Jenkins examines the collapsing share prices of big Italian banks and asks whether the markets are treating them unfairly. He points out Italian banks have raised significant capital through share offerings this year, while their exposure to bad loans is limited, as Italy has so far avoided a property-market bust.

But Mr Jenkins also acknowledges that market fears about Italian banks have little to do with individual lending or capital-raising decisions, and everything to do with the sovereign that stands behind them. There are three reasons for this.

1)      First, a government shut out from bond markets may not be able to recapitalise banks should this become necessary.

2)      Second, an economic slump would hit the profitability of domestic banks (borrowers may default, and investment opportunities are likely to be scarce).

3)      And third, the domestic banks may hold large stocks of sovereign bonds themselves.

The latter is a huge problem for Italian banks. Data derived from last year’s stress tests by  two economists at the OECD gives a sense of what the home bias in Italian bondholding could mean for the country's banks.

Italian banks were twice as exposed to Italian bonds as the banks
of any other European country.

The aggregate exposure was equal to 157% of Italian banks’ combined Tier 1 capital. If Italian bonds do not recover in value, no amount of equity issuance would be enough to save the country's banks.