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Europe’s Banks Face Second Funding Squeeze

Submitted by on 14 juin 2010 – 14 h 34 minNo Comment

European banks at risk of writedowns from the sovereign debt crisis face a funding squeeze that may depress earnings, curb lending and imperil economic recovery in the region.

Investors are shunning bank securities on concern Greek, Portuguese and Spanish bonds held by the lenders will plunge in value. Bank bond sales slowed in May to the lowest since Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.’s failure in 2008 as the extra yield buyers demand to hold the securities over government debt soared to the highest this year. Firms are wary of lending to each other, depositing record funds with the European Central Bank.

“There is a lot of mistrust,” said Christoph Rieger, co- head of fixed-income strategy at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “Banks are trading with the ECB rather than with each other.”

The central bank is preventing a crisis by providing banks with unprecedented funding. In substituting long-term money with shorter-maturity ECB cash, policymakers are making it harder to wean banks off life support as well as the short-term financing that regulators blame for the credit crisis.

The cost of insuring bank debt from default rose close to a record last week. The Markit iTraxx Financial Index of swaps on 25 European banks and insurers climbed to 208 basis points on June 8, approaching the all-time high of 210 basis points set in March 2009, JPMorgan Chase & Co. prices show. (…)

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