Banking instability: "Europe is vulnerable", judges the chief economist of the IMF

Banking instability: "Europe is vulnerable", judges the chief economist of the IMF

| Tuesday 09 May 2023

After the bankruptcy of several American regional banks in recent months, the chief economist of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday deemed Europe “vulnerable”, although its banks seem “solid”.

"Europe is vulnerable because the banking union is not over," said Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas in Paris during a meeting organized by the Association of Economic and Financial Journalists (Ajef).

"We don't yet have a deposit union: that means that France is responsible for its own banks, Germany is responsible for its own banks if there is a shock in terms of deposit guarantees", explained Mr. Gourinchas.

But "we are entitled to ask questions about the ability of countries (European, editor's note) to take charge of their own banks if ever there was a major banking shock", as the American authorities did after the bankruptcies Silicon Valley Bank, Signature Bank or First Republic.

The financial margins of European states to come to the aid of defaulting banks are limited, after the significant public spending granted since the covid-19 pandemic.

The IMF "is still a bit worried about this banking instability, because once investors get nervous about financial institutions, there's always the possibility of market moves getting bigger and not very good. controlled,” argued Mr. Gourinchas.

However, European banks have "greater capital cushions" than their American counterparts and they have undergone stress tests "more rigorously" than in the United States, he said. to reassure.

"In the euro zone, we haven't had any big banks that have been put in difficulty", with the exception of Credit Suisse, "a bank that has been going badly for a long time already", he further argued. .

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