Thursday, 01 September 2011 09:14

Beef Based Upon Bogus Banking Confidence in Both The US and EU Featured

True market volatility is still here with trading ranges that are as wide as some years annual moves. We still maintain our fundamental bearish stances, particularly on US EU banks, both of which have rallied heavily over the last few days. In today's news...

Losses Push Major Banks out of Top Europe Index


European banks Societe Generale, UniCredit and Intesa Sanpaolo, which suffered heavy losses in August, will be removed from the region's blue-chip STOXX Europe 50 index, the index complier STOXX said.

Euro Zone, IMF Clash on Estimates of Banks' Damage

International Monetary Fund staff have provoked a fierce dispute with eurozone authorities by circulating estimates showing serious damage to European banks’ balance sheets from their holdings of troubled eurozone sovereign debt.

ecb_logo1The IMF’s work, contained in a draft version of its regular Global Financial Stability Report (GFSR), uses credit default swap prices to estimate the market value of government bonds of the three eurozone countries receiving IMF bailouts – Ireland, Greece and Portugal – together with those of Italy, Spain and Belgium.The analysis, which was discussed by the IMF’s executive board in Washington on Wednesday, has been strongly rebutted by the European Central Bank and eurozone governments, which say it is partial and misleading.

Although the IMF analysis may be revised, two officials said one estimate showed that marking sovereign bonds to market would reduce European banks’ tangible common equity – the core measure of their capital base – by about 200 billion euros ($287 billion), a drop of 10-12 percent. The impact could be increased substantially, perhaps doubled, by the knock-on effects of European banks holding assets in other banks.

The ECB and eurozone governments have rejected such estimates.

Elena Salgado, Spanish finance minister, told the Financial Times on Wednesday that the fund was mistaken in looking only at potential losses without also taking account of holdings of German Bunds, which have risen in price.

“The IMF vision is biased,” she said. “They only see the bad part of the debate.”

Ms Salgado added “this is the second time it has happened”, referring to the fund’s October 2009 GFSR, which estimated that eurozone banks had only written down $347 billion of $814 billion of probable losses from the financial crisis. 

It later revised down that total of probable total losses by a quarter. Ms Salgado said that the European stress tests of banks were a better indication of their vulnerabilities.

Officials involved in the debate say the mark-to-market analysis can explain much of the recent fall in European commercial banks’ share prices, including French and German institutions that have large holdings of eurozone sovereign debt.

“Marking to market is a fairly brutal exercise, but these are the estimates that hedge funds are currently making,” one official said.

Hmmm. The IMF and the EU are disagreeing on how bad the state of European banking really is... Has anyone really wondered what would happen if a truly independent entity would review the books? What would be their findings? Let's take a look at the BoomBustBlog EU archives and pull out Lies, Damn Lies, and Sovereign Truths: Why the Euro is Destined to Collapse! while keeping in mind that this article was researched and written well over a year ago!

The IMF and the EU have been consistently and overtly optimistic from the very beginning of this crisis. Their numbers have been dramatically over the top on the super bright, this will end pretty, rosy scenario side - and that is after multiple revisions to the downside!!! We can visit the US concept of regulatory capture (see How Regulatory Capture Turns Doo Doo Deadly and Lehman Brothers Dies While Getting Away with Murder: Regulatory Capture at its Best) for the EU, but due to time constraints we will save that topic for a later date. To make matters even worse, the sovereign states have taken these dramatically optimistic and proven unrealistic projections and have made even more optimistic and dramatically unrealistic projections on top of those in order to create the illusion of a workable "austerity" plan when in reality there is no way in hell the stated and published plans will come anywhere near reducing the debts and deficits as advertised - No Way in Hell (Hades/Tartarus/Anao/Uffern/Peklo/Niffliehem - just to cover some of the Euro states caught fudging the numbers)!

Let's take a visual perusal of what I am talking about, focusing on those sovereign nations that I have covered thus far.


Notice how dramatically off the market the IMF has been, skewered HEAVILY to the optimistic side. Now, notice how aggressively the IMF has downwardly revsied their forecasts to still end up widlly optimistic. 


Ever since the beginning of this crisis, IMF estimates of government balance have been just as bad...


The EU/EC has proven to be no better, and if anything is arguably worse!




and the EU on goverment balance??? Way, way, way off.


If the IMF was wrong, what in the world does that make the EC/EU?

The EC forecasts have been just as bad, if not much, much worse in nearly all of the forecasting scenarios we presented. Hey, if you think tha's bad, try taking a look at what the govenment of Greece has done with these fairy tale forecasts, as excerpted from the blog post "Greek Crisis Is Over, Region Safe", Prodi Says - I say Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!...


Think about it! With a .5% revisions, the EC was still 3 full points to the optimistic side on GDP, that puts the possibility of Greek government forecasts, which are much more optimistic than both the EU and the slightly more stringent but still mostly erroneous IMF numbers, being anywhere near realistic somewhere between zero and no way in hell (tartarus, hades, purgatory...).

Now, if the Greek government's macroeconomic assumptions are overstated when compared with EU estimates, and the EU estimates are overstated when compared to the IMF estimates, and the IMF estimates are overstated when compared to reality.... Just who the hell can you trust these days??? Never fear, Reggie's here. Download our "unbiased, non-captured, empirically driven" forecast of the REAL Greek economy - (subscribers only, click here to subscribeGreece Public Finances Projections Greece Public Finances Projections 2010-03-15 11:33:27 694.35 Kb. Related banking research can be downloaded here:

It really is a shame when you have to pay for the truth, isn't it? If you think you've witnessed an example of social unrest in Greece, you ain't seen nuthin' yet. Wait until the reality of these faked numbers start hitting home...

What about the UK?

I'm glad you asked. We just finished our UK analysis (subscribers, see UK Public Finances March 2010 UK Public Finances March 2010 2010-03-24 09:32:01 617.23 Kb), and the Greek theme has continued into the land of the Brits.


... and in terms of government balance over-optimism???



And what about Italy???

Again, we're glad you inquired. Subscribers should download Italy public finances projection Italy public finances projection 2010-03-22 10:47:41 588.19 Kb as well as theFile Icon Italian Banking Macro-Fundamental Discussion Note and the

File Icon Spanish Banking Macro Discussion Note in anticipation of our upcoming Spain analysis, which should be a doozy!

This is Italy's presumption of economic growth used in their fiscal projections:





For those of you who still have any interest in the big European Sovereign Debt Scam, I also introduce you to our analysis of European bank asset impairments. Reference (yes, once again) the instructional video, the public blog post and the high end subscription only "UGLY TRUTH". It is absolutely amazing how often I can use, and then reuse these links yet they still remain quite timely, informative and apt given the contextual news for the day at hand. Apparently, there must be some validity to their content.

The Keynote Presentation in Amsterdam

Banks NPAs to total loans

Source: IMF, Boombust research and analytics

Euro banks remain weak as compared to their US counterparts

Health of European banks is weaker when compared to US banks. European banks are highly leveraged compared to their US counterparts (11.1x versus 4.1x) and are undercapitalized with core capital ratio of 6.5x vs. 8.5x. Also, the profitability of European banks is lower with net interest margin of 1.2% compared with 3.3%. However, non-performing loans-to-total loans for European banks are slightly better off when compared to US with NPL/loans at 4.9% vs. 5.6%. Nonetheless, considering the backdrop of high exposure to sovereign debt in Euro peripheral countries, we could see substantial write-downs for Euro banks AFS and HTM portfolio, which would more than offsets the relative strength of loan portfolio.

EURO Stress Test Rebuffed, Again

The OECD working paper “The EU stress test and sovereign debt exposures” by Adrian Blundell-Wignall and Patrick Slovik rebuffs the EU stress test, as we have several times in the past. The argument in the white paper echoes BoomBustBlog view that accounting policies allows banks and financial institutions to mask their true economic health. An asset that has declined in value leads to economic loss irrespective of its classification as held-to-maturity or held-for-trading, but accounting policies allow banks to mark down only their trading portfolio to the current market value while leaving a large chunk of held-to-maturity at book value even if said asset loses 50% in value that would take years to recover, or the bank could be presented with the very distinct possibility that there may be no recovery of said value loss. The former event (of recovering back to book value) would mask the true economic picture at a given snap shot of time while the latter (no recovery) is more of time shifting distortion wherein current profits are inflated for future losses.

Coming back to the EU stress test, the paper contends that by focusing only on the trading book exposures, the EU stress test gave a rosy picture of banks true health.

•     Sovereign bond haircuts were applied only on the trading book holdings with implicit assumption that bonds held to maturity will receive 100 cents in the euro. This assumption severely understates the banks losses as 83% of banks investment portfolio is in banking books in form of held-to-maturity assets while only 17% of assets are held in trading portfolio. In case of sovereign default, the distinction between the banking book and the trading book simply disappears. By considering only a smaller component of banks investment books, EU stress tests have severely undermined the estimated write-downs on banks books and have given rosy picture about banks true health. The logic of said methodology is that with the EU/ECB/ EFSF SPV (basically, a giant new European CDO) backing, no sovereign state will be allowed to default.

•     Second, and more importantly, the market is not prepared to give a zero probability to debt restructurings beyond the period of the stress test and/or the period after which the role of the EFSF SPV comes to an end.

o   The assumption of no default over 2010-2012 appears reasonable given that the EFSF is made up of a €720bn lending facility (€220bn from the IMF; €60bn from the EU; and the SPV can build exposures for 3 years to the limit of €440bn for the 16 Euro area countries) which provides a guarantee of funding for any countries facing financing pressures, certainly for the next 3 years.

o   However, the concerns in the market beyond 2012 are: the longer-run fiscal sustainability problem; and the difficulty of achieving structural adjustments in labor and pension markets and ability to achieve a sustainable growth in a period of budget restraint. The fear is that this will not be resolved by the time the support packages run out, and hence the probability of restructuring may not be put at zero by portfolio managers. Angela Merkel has recently announced her willingness to spearhead several common nation reforms to put the EU block of nations on heterogeneous footing in regards to regulation, debt management etc. This will go a long way to solving the problem at hand, but will also put significant strain on several of the weaker nations, again exacerbating the probability for restructuring to bring said nations in line with their stronger counterparts.

Impact of bank’s banking books on haircuts

EU banking book sovereign exposures are about five times larger than trading book. The table below gives sovereign exposure of major European countries for both trading and banking book. The EU trading book has €335bn of exposure while banking book has €1.7t exposure towards sovereign defaults. EU stress test estimated total write-down’s of €26bn as it only considered banks trading portfolio. This equated to implied haircut of 7.9% on trading portfolio with losses equating to 2.4% of Tier 1 capital. However, if the same haircuts (7.9% weighted average haircut) are applied to banking book then the loss would amount to €153bn equating to 13.8% of Tier 1 capital.

We have also presented an alternative scenario since we believe that EU stress test had failed not only to include banks HTM books but also the loss estimates were highly optimistic, as has much of the economic and financial forecasting that has come from the EU.

If you liked this, then you probably would have great interest in:

Relevant material for capturing maximum alpha duing this European banking meltdown:

File Icon French Bank Run Forensic Thoughts - pubic preview for Blog - A freebie, to illustrate what all of you non-subscribers are missing!

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