From the FT:
As was reported earlier, it was Barroso who had a massively disappointing session earlier today, in which not only did he not announce any of the specifics on the EU bank recap plan (because they do not exist!), but demanded that banks scramble to raise their capital ratio, in essence undoing everything that had been done to the moment.This radical approach, led by French banks BNP Paribas and Société Générale, would be copied by lenders across Italy, Spain and Germany, bankers said. “Why should we raise capital at these [depressed share price] levels?” said one eurozone bank boss. The average European bank’s equity is trading at only about 60 per cent of its book value.
However, the banks’ “shrinkage” strategy is likely to prove controversial with politicians and regulators if it led to bankers lending less money to customers, jeopardising the eurozone’s fragile recovery, analysts warned.
But that, as noted, is merely the strawman to give banks cover before investors who demand to know the reason why banks are now scrambling to sell anything not nailed down.Mr Barroso stopped short of specifying the target ratio, but people close to the process told the Financial Times on Tuesday that the European Banking Authority, the regulator, is poised to set a higher bar than expected – a 9 per cent ratio of core tier one capital to risk-weighted assets – for banks across the continent. A deadline of six to nine months would be set for forceable recapitalisation by governments, if banks have not reached the ratio under their own steam.
The FT then proceeds with details about the latest, greatest and fakest stress test about to be unleashed which nobody will care about, as well as what the targeted cap ratio is. That is all irrelevant.Banks and their advisers said their scope to raise fresh capital from investors was all but non-existent. “I don’t think anyone has access to the markets now,” said one senior European investment banker. Investors are loath to commit to fresh equity injections, in the knowledge that the new money would simply be soaked up by sovereign debt writedowns, bankers said.
But by shrinking assets – the denominator of capital ratios – many banks believe they can reach the targets without resorting to government recapitalisation. In recent weeks, both BNP and SocGen have signalled plans to offload a combined €150bn of risk-weighted assets. Further businesses could now be sold. Italy’s Unicredit and Germany’s Commerzbank were likely to find themselves under most pressure to deleverage and divest assets, bankers said
All that is relevant is that suddenly everyone will start wondering what USD-assets do European banks have in inventory that are about to hit any bid in the market. Some hints: stocks, CMBX and, you guessed, Prime-X.