Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Italy’s Banks are Drowning in Bad Debt......THIS IS UNSUSTAINABLE!

Italy's Banks are Drowning in Bad Debt

The real danger to the euro area probably doesn't emanate from Greece, but from two of its heavyweights, namely France and Italy. A small note in the European press reminds us that all is not well in these countries, least of all, Italy, with its banks (currently this is only a "page 16 story", but it has great potential to eventually move to the front page).

Regional distribution of non-performing loans in Italy:

NPLs by region
"Rome – because of the recession of recent years and corporate bankruptcies, the total of bad loans has continued to rise in Italy. According to Italy's banking association ABI, non-performing loans amounted to 193.7 billion euro in May, 25.1 billion more than in the same month in 2014. This is the highest level since 1996.

Non-performing loans represent 10.1 percent of all loans granted by Italian banks, ABI said on Tuesday. Especially small and medium enterprises continue to be under pressure due to bad loans, so will take a long time before banks will see the bad loan situation ease, the ABI report stated. Italian companies are currently struggling with the effects of the longest economic crisis since World War II and are therefore often no longer able to service their loans."

If our calculator can be trusted, this means that bad loans in Italy's banking system have increased by roughly 14.9% over just the past year – by no means a peak crisis year, although Italy's listing economy continued to contract slightly.

As the following chart shows, Italian NPLs stood at € 165 bn. in Q1 2014. However, to this one must actually add all sorts of loans that are otherwise delinquent/dubious or sub-standard, but haven't yet reached "full" NPL status. These are summarized together with NPLs under the term impaired loans below:

Italy_impaired_loans
While Italy's banks are drowning in NPLs and otherwise impaired debt (from the above one can probably infer that the new total is close to €350 billion), its government is buried under ever more debt as well. Of course, the government's debt is considered "risk-free" in the Bizarro universe we have entered since the ECB has decided to join the global printathon. Note that we are dating this ECB decision to late 2011, as its money printing efforts started well before it announced full-blown "QE" (previously there were LTROs, TLTROs, several covered bond purchase programs, an ABS purchase program, the SMP and the as yet unused threat of "OMT" or "outright monetary transactions").

The trend in Italy's general government debt – remains a one-way street.

italy-government-debt

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